Scouting Profile: Quarterback Deshaun Watson

by Mike Tagliere | @MikeTagliereNFL | Featured Writer
Apr 18, 2017

Deshaun Watson was once considered the top quarterback prospect in this year’s draft, but he’s been sliding a bit as of late.

Deshaun Watson, Clemson

Height: 6’2″
Weight: 221 lbs.
40-yard dash: 4.66 seconds
Arms: 33″
Hands: 9 3/4″

The NFL has changed from the game it was 20 years ago, as mobile quarterbacks seem to have found their place in the league, though some have much shorter careers than most would’ve expected. Watson is one of the incoming quarterbacks who appears to be somewhat of a run-first quarterback, but he also led Clemson to a national title over the intimidating Alabama defense by throwing for 420 yards and three touchdowns. Does Watson deserve consideration as the first quarterback off the board?

Coming into my film-study on Watson, expectations were through the roof, but I can confidently say that he didn’t live up to them. One of the things necessary to succeed in the NFL is the ability to scan the field and not lock onto one target. This happens all too often with Watson, as he appears to know exactly who he is throwing to when the ball is snapped. If that player cannot get open, Watson often takes off running. There are some exceptions where he’ll find someone while scrambling, but this is one of the biggest issues in his game. His eyes cannot give away his targets in the NFL, because the 17 interceptions that he had at Clemson in 2017 will only go up in the NFL.

Despite knowing who he’s throwing to a majority of the time, Watson’s accuracy leaves much to be desired. He’ll make most of the easy throws, but when it comes to some of the more difficult ones, he is all over the place. In fact, if it wasn’t for Mike Williams bailing him out half the time, Watson may not be considered one of the top prospects in the draft.

One area of his game that is a tad underrated is his arm strength, as he has it when he wants to. The issue with it, is that it affects his accuracy quite a bit. When he tries to wind up and put some mustard on his passes, you’ll often see them sail on the wide receiver, either over his head or out of bounds. When compared to the other top prospect Mitch Trubisky, the difference is clear as day, and Watson can’t hang.

As mentioned at the top of the article, Watson is somewhat of a run-first quarterback. He’s not outright fast, but he is quick enough to make it work. He’s aware of defenders in the area and can be considered somewhat elusive, though I wouldn’t put him in the category of someone like Tyrod Taylor or anything. They ran a lot of option plays with him at Clemson, something that’ll likely decrease in the NFL. Given his size and solid speed, he’s a candidate to rush for 300-plus yards if he were to start all 16 games.

Needless to say, Watson didn’t quite live up to where he’s projected to go in the NFL Draft, which is somewhere in the top half of the first round. There are some redeeming qualities, like the fact that he’s a proven winner, but that only goes so far in the pros. He will wind up starting for someone in the NFL, and although I don’t know if it’ll be this season, he’s going to make an impact in fantasy football because of his rushing abilities.

Potential Landing Spot

Whoever drafts Watson knows exactly what they are getting, but the question is whether or not he goes to a team that has a void to fill right now. The Jets are likely the best fit for Watson, as they have already signed Josh McCown who can play until they feel Watson is ready, which may be mid-season. Playing at Clemson is one of the biggest stages of college football, so Watson should be fit to handle the New York media. Another team that I could see taking Watson is the Browns who have accumulated multiple picks throughout the first few rounds. If Trubisky is gone and Watson is still on the board at No. 12, the Browns are likely to pull the trigger on a quarterback.

NFL Comparison

When comparing quarterbacks, it’s a very small pool to choose from. But with Watson, the closest comparison for me is the Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith. Neither of them are known to have outstanding arm strength, and though Watson’s arm is a tad stronger, Smith is more accurate, especially this late in his career. They both possess an above average rushing ability, as most people don’t know that Smith ran for more than 430 yards in two of the last four seasons. It’s not to say they’re identical, but that’s the best comparison right now. Others included would be Ryan Tannehill and Marcus Mariota.

To read up on some of the other high-profile NFL Draft prospects, check out the links below:

Mitch Trubisky – (QB, North Carolina)
Leonard Fournette – (RB, LSU)
Joe Mixon – (RB, Oklahoma)
Christian McCaffrey – (RB, Stanford)
Dalvin Cook – (RB, Florida State)
Corey Davis – (WR, Western Michigan)
Mike Williams – (WR, Clemson)
John Ross – (WR, Washington)

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Mike Tagliere is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeTagliereNFL.


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