As this week’s NFL Draft draws closer, each and every second will become more and more precious as NFL teams zero in on what players they will target.
Therefore, every potential NFL star will be dissected even closer under increasingly bigger microscopes.
Considered by many to be among a small handful of top quarterbacks in this year’s draft, former Clemson star Deshuan Watson will be one of the toughest players to pull the trigger on this week. The biggest reason for that is there’s almost never a time in which a quarterback is a sure thing.
Case in point: Tom Brady – considered by many to be the best quarterback of all time now – was a sixth-round selection and was drafted later than the likes of Chad Pennington, Giovanni Carmazzi, Chris Redman, Tee Martin, Marc Bulger and Spergon Wynn. Wait, who? Yeah, I know.
However, I believe Watson – who is widely expected to be drafted somewhere in the first round – has the tools to become the franchise quarterback for whichever team selects him.
Here’s five reasons why:
1. He’s not Joe Mixon
It’s one thing to have the on-the-field skills; it’s another to have your life together off it.
At the same time someone like former Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon appears to be sliding down the draft boards after reaching a settlement with a woman he viciously punched in the face, you have a guy like Watson, who has recently displayed his poise off the field when put in a precariously position.
When approached by Crimson Tide fans during a visit to a bar in Alabama, he was asked to leave. While many athletes’ testosterone levels would have risen and erupted to cause an ugly scene, Watson simply walked away, taking the high road.
Such maturity should be seen as a plus for NFL teams, especially at a time when there seems to be an endless list of players with criminal records or shady backgrounds littering the league’s squads.
The last thing you want is to draft a highly talented player only to see him sitting the bench while serving a suspension.
2. He’s already proven against ‘pros’
While Watson walked away from some Alabama ilk in a bar, he’s done quite the opposite when facing the Crimson Tide on the field.
As a sophomore, Watson led Clemson to the College Football Playoff National Championship game, where the Tigers came up a little short against an Alabama program that always features a long list of future pros.
In his junior season he avenged that loss, helping Clemson take down Alabama and win its first national championship in 35 years.
The Tigers often have faced a stigma for playing in the ACC, which many consider to be one of the weaker Power 5 programs. However, going toe-to-toe with Alabama paints quite a different picture.
That being said, the ACC argument is contradicted by the fact that many have North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky projected as the first quarterback coming off the board.
With Trubisky, the argument is mostly made on potential as he was a full-time starter for just one season. Watson started two-plus seasons while putting up pretty consistent numbers.
3. He’s the right kind of dual threat
Watson can certainly tuck the ball and run. However, that’s not his first instinct.
Entering a league that seems to best fit pocket passers, Watson has shown he can do just that. With that being said, he also has shown he can throw on the run or just simply take off with the ball. Knowing when to run and when not to can pay huge dividends – and keep your head attached to your body – in a league where even defensive linemen often are just as fast as anyone else on the field.
That formula has proven to be valuable in today’s NFL – think of Aaron Rodgers – whereas most quarterbacks who entered the league with a run-first mentality didn’t enjoy fruitful careers.
4. Marcus Mariota comparison a compliment
In NFL.com’s scouting combine evaluation of Watson, his comparison to a current NFL player is Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota.
That should be taken as a compliment as Mariota is considered to be one of the league’s up-and-coming signal-callers.
The former Oregon star threw for nearly 3,500 yards and 26 touchdowns – versus nine interceptions – for a 91.5 quarterback rating in his sophomore season in Tennessee.
In a league that no longer has a long list of “elite” quarterbacks, grabbing someone of Mariota’s caliber in the first round should be a no-brainer.
5. All he does is win
Since Dabo Swinney became Clemson’s head coach, the Tigers have been on an upward trajectory. However, it was Watson who proved to take the program to the zenith.
Tajh Boyd did some good for Clemson along the way but didn’t reach the heights Watson later would.
While being the best ever at any position for a prospective football powerhouse – or a national championship-winning quarterback – doesn’t always equate to NFL success, I’d lay the chips on the table for Watson.
He checks most of the important boxes and has shown he possesses another one you can’t always pinpoint: intangibles. And Watson showed those traits on one of the biggest stages with the spotlight burning bright, leading Clemson to a title.
Soon, he’ll get his chance to showcase his talents at the next level.
I’m not saying Watson is the next Tom Brady; however, if he becomes the next Mariota type the team that selects him will be perfectly content with their pick.
The Coastal Carolina men’s golf team continues play in the Sun Belt Championship on Monday and Tuesday. … CCU’s baseball team plays at The Citadel at 5 p.m. Tuesday and hosts Troy for a three-game series Friday (6 p.m.), Saturday (2 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.). … Coastal’s women’s lacrosse team plays at Kennesaw State at 3 p.m. Friday and at Mercer at 1 p.m. Sunday. … The Coastal Carolina track and field teams compete in the Tom Jones Memorial on Friday. … CCU’s softball team plays a three-game series at Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday (doubleheader starting at 3 p.m.) and Sunday (2 p.m.). … The Myrtle Beach Pelicans host the Wilmington Blue Rocks in a three-game series Tuesday through Thursday (all 7:05 p.m. starts) before heading to Lynchburg for a three-game set Friday (6:30 p.m.), Saturday (6 p.m.) and Sunday (2 p.m.). … The South Carolina baseball team hosts Kentucky for a three-game set Friday (7 p.m.), Saturday (4 p.m.) and Sunday (1:30 p.m.). … The Clemson baseball team hosts College of Charleston at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday before heading to North Carolina for a three-game set Friday (6:30 p.m.), Saturday (4 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.). … After being postponed Sunday, the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway is set to run at 1 p.m. Monday. Then, with a short turnaround, the circuit heads to Richmond International Raceway for the Toyota Owners 400 at 2 p.m. Sunday. … The PGA Tour heads to Avondale, La., for the Zurich Classic of New Orleans from Thursday through Sunday. … In tennis, the WTA begins play in the WTA Istanbul Cup and WTA Tour Porsche Tennis Grand Prix on Monday and the ATP Tour begins play in the ATP Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell and ATP Hungarian Open on Monday.
When: 8 p.m. Thursday (first round), 7 p.m. Friday (second and third rounds) and noon Saturday (fourth through seventh rounds)