The QB crop in the 2017 class has as much debate as any position in the draft, which is particularly rare for the QB class. Often by this point in the process there is a confirmed number one and everyone knows who will be the first QB off the board. This year is different in that Mitch Trubisky (UNC) only has one year of film which leaves questions ask to his real skills and value. Deshone Kizer (ND) showed promise only to benched in season and most recently called out by his coach. Patrick Mahomes (TTU) shows good potential, but his transition will be difficult coming from an air raid offense that does not focus on the minute aspects of playing the quarterback position. As you can see each one has their flaws and now we’ll discuss another top option Deshaun Watson QB (Clemson).
Watson has proven to be a gamer playing great in big games and coming away from the 2016-2017 season with a National Championship. Watson plays with an edge and looks as if he provides the necessary leadership to lead a team of grown men. When thinking of the modern NFL Watson looks to have the tools athleticism, leadership, and arm talent (kinda). Let’s dig in more.
Watson showed his ability to throw with touch to all levels of the field particularly over the middle of the field. However, when he throws the long ball he is very inconsistent missing long and short. When a quarterback misses long and short it is worrisome due to the inaccuracy that is being shown to control the ball at all. There were several times when a receiver would be running wide open downfield and the throw would be nowhere near the receiver not even giving him a chance. In the NFL missing long ball throws will only make the field more condensed and daring him to throw long even more. Watson does throw with good anticipation on short to intermediate routes which is due to his somewhat average arm strength. When looking to drive throws he can become inaccurate and the ball begins to wobble, which could become worrisome in adverse weather (Stay away Browns).
When he is in the pocket he does a good job of standing tall and working through the limited reads he had. Pressure in the pocket did not have a tremendous impact on his throws as he often looked to escape and was able to get outside the pocket, while keeping eyes downfield still looking to throw. Plays after pressure did look as if it made him flee the pocket rather quickly, with no pressure in sight. In the NFL I would assume whoever picks him look to move the pocket and give him half field reads while also looking to exploit his athleticism. When he does run he shows the athlete he is, although he does take big hits that will injure him if he doesn’t learn how to slide. Him being an intelligent player I’m sure he will get the memo on sliding in one of his first practices.
Mentally Watson is said to be a student of the game so he should be able to comprehend a NFL playbook. His awareness has to get better as he did throw 17 interceptions last season and several of the throws were right to the defenders. He just flat-out misses defenders sometimes which can be attributed to a fairly simple offense with many keys for the defense and his lack of reading the defense post snap. With film room work this could be eliminated, and a good QB coach to speed up his mental process post snap.
As for his NFL projection I believe it will take some time and would be better off coming in mid-season in first year or starting his second year. He is a GAMER and some team will love that enough to take him first round, but he would be best off in a Dak Prescott situation with a strong team around him as he will not carry a team right off the bat. If he can improve upon his accuracy which is definitely possible he could develop into a very good starting quarterback that provides passion and leadership to a team while making throws he’s supposed to make and limiting his mistakes. As a somewhat similar comparison think Alex Smith but more athletic and actually wins and plays good in big games. Think of Alex Smith struggles with inaccuracy in early stages of career. Should go round 1 late first 2nd or 3rd QB off the board.