Quarterback Deshaun Watson led the Clemson Tigers to a 35-31 win over the Alabama Crimson Tide in the College Football Playoff National Championship on Jan. 9. Watson, a junior, declared for the NFL draft the following day and reportedly is being eyed by the Cleveland Browns, who own the No. 1 pick.
Browns coach Hue Jackson and his staff will coach the South team in this week’s Senior Bowl, and they reportedly were interested in having Watson participate in the game, but he declined. Although Watson is a junior, he is eligible for the game due to the fact that he already has received his degree from Clemson.
While Watson won’t be at the Senior Bowl, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney will, and he gave his opinion on what the Browns should do with the first selection.
Cleveland’s interest in Watson is obvious as the Browns went 1-15 during the 2016 season while alternating between Robert Griffin III, Cody Kessler, Josh McCown and Charlie Whitehurst at quarterback. The beleaguered Browns have used 26 starting quarterbacks since the start of the 2000 season, including missing on prospects Brady Quinn, Brandon Weeden and Johnny Manziel.
Watson will be widely debated as an NFL prospect in the coming months but is projected to be either the first or second quarterback off the board in a majority of mock drafts.
While scouts question whether Watson can be a prototypical pocket passer that thrives in the NFL, his performance in back-to-back championship games against an Alabama defense that is stacked with NFL talent speaks for itself. In those two games, Watson threw for 825 yards, rushed for 116 yards, accounted for eight total touchdowns and turned the ball over only once.
Swinney’s comparison is hyperbolic, but Watson won a host of big games at Clemson and capped his career with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow with one second remaining to give the Tigers the title. That’s pretty Jordan-esque.
Thumbnail photo via Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports Images
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