NFL Draft Player Preview: Deshaun Watson

Deshaun Watson has been a star at Clemson. A Heisman trophy finalist last year, and a likely finalist this year, he has put up some gaudy numbers at Clemson. In 33 games, he has amassed 8,647 yards and 85 total touchdowns. Lets not forget that he missed a few games his freshman year, played a few on a torn ACL and has gotten pulled from many games at half. He has made it very clear that this is his last season for the Tigers and will turn his attention to the NFL in the spring.

Strengths: Watson has one of the best arms in all of CFB. He has great arm strength and it is shown on throws both down the field and across it. He has the arm to make almost any throw on the field. His accuracy is slightly above average in general but he has shown a great deal of accuracy on deep throws which is something that is vital in today’s NFL. The one area where Watson excels the most is on the run and when he can escape the pocket. Not only can he use his legs to pick up the first down but he also keeps his head looking down field and can make tough throws on the run. It is on these broken plays where we can see Watson’s tremendous talent.

Weaknesses: One problem that he has had over his college career is turnovers and the most concerning thing is that it has gotten worse as time has gone on. He threw 2 INT’s his freshman year in limited time, 13 INT’s last year in 15 games, and has already thrown 13 INT’s in 10 games this year. Watson has gotten into the habit of locking in on one receiver and throwing it without even reading there coverage. That is something he needs to work on. This is also I think a factor of the system that Clemson runs. There plays are fairly simple reads for Watson and very rarely does he need to go through a progression. Watson also needs to get a little bit bigger and stronger as his frame is not that of a typical NFL QB.

Projected: Mid-First Round. I can see a fit with San Fransisco so he might go in the Top 3 but I can also see him falling to early in the second round at this point in the season. He has a lot to prove still, and can start by leading Clemson to the CFB playoffs.

NFL Comparison: Marcus Mariota. A worst case scenario for him would be a similar one to another Clemson QB, Tajh Boyd and not being able to stick anywhere. Boyd’s numbers appeared to be more of a product of the system and Clemson’s talent rather than NFL ready talent. The best case is he shows why he is one of the best college QB’s and excels in the NFL. I would like to lean more to the latter. Watson has immense talent and he would have succeeded in any program or offense. I think Watson will be very similar to Marcus Mariota. He isn’t as accurate but has a very similar game. I know Mariota isn’t established yet and is only in his second season, but Marcus is having a great “sophomore” year and I project Watson to follow a similar track. He will need to become acclimated to the NFL and really learn and study defenses but once he does that, the sky is the limit.

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