QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson
6’2”, 221 lbs.
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.