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Scouting Reports: QB Deshaun Watson

Steve Shoup

2017 NFL Draft Scouting Reports:

 

QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson

6’2”, 221 lbs.

 

Pros:

  • Exceptional athlete for the position, who is a major threat to run the football and capable of picking up big chunks of yards when he gets to the open field.
  • Two and a half years of starting experience, most of which playing at a high level.
  • Shows good command of the offense and a team leader.
  • Excels in big games, as two of his best college games came against the vaunted Alabama defense in National Championship games.
  • Shows poise in big game situations, and calmly will conduct the offense in those crucial moments.
  • Does a good job protecting himself when on the run, but at the same time he shows a willingness to stand in the pocket when he knows he will take a hit.
  • Capable arm with generally good accuracy.
  • Shows good touch and ball placement on short and intermediate passes.
  • Came to the combine with some added weight to his frame, which should help protect him at the next level.

 

Cons:

  • Is a bit too reliant on his legs to pick-up yards rather than using them to buy time and keep his eyes down field.
  • Interceptions have been an issue and they jumped this year, with a number of them squarely falling on Watson’s shoulders.
  • He won’t always see lurking defenders and they have made him pay this year.
  • Velocity was an issue at the Combine and there are definite questions about how strong his arm is.
  • Footwork is a mess at times and combined with an average arm (potentially below average), could lead to trouble.
  • Had a torn ACL as a freshman, which does put him at a higher risk for re-injury.
  • Will need to develop as more of a drop back passer and taking snaps from center.

 

Overall:

Watson was a highly accomplished dual-threat college quarterback who has terrorized opposing defenses these past two seasons. While some of his game won’t translate as well to the NFL and other parts need refinement, I do think he’s one of the safer quarterbacks in this class.

Though his athleticism is definitely a special trait for Watson, it’s his toughness and leadership that really helps project him as a starting QB at the next level. Though not the most complex college offense, he clearly mastered the Clemson offense, and found ways to succeed in some really tough spots. That is not easy to do for a number of young quarterbacks, and it should help Watson quickly rise to a starting role in the NFL. An NFL team would be wise to find ways to incorporate Watson’s exceptional rushing ability, but they need to be cautious that they aren’t building their entire offense around it. Not only can that help reduce the number of hits Watson takes, but it should help him develop quicker as a pocket passer.

Watson does have more concerns than you’d like (as does this whole class) for a high draft pick. His interceptions and some of his decision making was just baffling at times. This is one area that Watson will definitely need to develop. NFL defenses are far more complex and defenders are much better at baiting quarterbacks, so if Watson doesn’t fix this issue it could be pretty ugly early in his career.

While there are a number of legitimate concerns to Watson’s game, I believe his leadership, poise and work ethic can help him overcome them to be at least an average starter in the NFL. What is less certain to me is how high of an upside does he possess. I worry that Watson’s upside is capped due to an average at best arm, and a higher turnover rate. Its makes it tough to ever project him as a top 10 QB, but in the right offense and with decent talent around him, Watson should be able to help a team contend.

 

 



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