It’s not surprising that Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney is a huge believer in Deshaun Watson’s future as an NFL quarterback. It’s also not surprising he has a strong opinion about any NFL talent evaluators who don’t think his former quarterback deserves a Round 1 grade heading into the 2017 NFL Draft.
He made his stance crystal clear about their abilities if they don’t see Watson as a player worth taking high in the draft.
— Rich Eisen Show (@RichEisenShow) January 17, 2017
There are some concerns when evaluating what Watson can and cannot do yet as an advanced passer. He has a penchant for throwing into coverage, for staring down receiver and for simply not seeing defenders on some intercepted throws. He’s still a one-read passer too often and is extremely skittish in the pocket, often “escaping” outside his protection zone even when protection hasn’t broken down.
These are the negatives NFL personnel folks will have to balance when considering where Watson falls on their draft boards. That said, there are also some tremendous positives that should be heavily weighed.
For starters, Watson has the intangibles that make good quarterbacks great in the NFL. He is a leader, for starters, who earned the respect of his entire team throughout the two-and-a-half years he started for the Tigers. He also proved he’s a winner and that he can perform at the highest level on the biggest stage available in college football. He played extremely well two years in a row against the toughest defense in the nation, losing the national title game last season before leading Clemson to victory against Alabama this January.
Watson also has a chip on his shoulder the size of Mt. Everest.
Add in the fact that he throws one of the prettiest deep balls this scribe has seen in a while, that he has the ability to run and pass much like Cam Newton, that he completed a high percentage of his passes all three years at Clemson and you have quite a package of raw talent to work with.
While some evaluators won’t have Watson pegged as a first-round talent due to the negatives in his game, there are others in the NFL who believe he’s a lock as a top-10 pick, if not the No. 1 overall pick this upcoming April (more on that here).
For what it’s worth, this scribe would rather take a gamble on a guy like Watson, who has more positive traits that translate to NFL success than negative.
Every quarterback selected high is a gamble. They all have the potential to make or break a franchise’s hope of competing at the highest level. A quarterback who has already proved he can play well at the highest level, Watson should be a first-round pick this year.