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2017 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: DeShaun Watson, QB, Clemson

Watson performed on the biggest stage in college. Could he do it in New York?

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in a long time, the quarterback position is realistically in the discussion for the New York Giants’ first overall selection. They are in a position where their franchise quarterback is set, but the end of his career is realistically in sight. Rather than get caught floundering without a franchise QB -- and therefore without a hope of winning anything -- the Giants have begun looking at the top quarterbacks in this draft class.

Clemson’s DeShaun Watson came into the season as the consensus top quarterback in the draft class after an impressive performance the previous year, culminating in a terrific performance in the national championship game. He didn’t take the next step that many expected, and fell from favor as a result. He has rebounded some, and has done everything he can in the draft process to help himself.

Is it enough to entice the Giants?

Measurables

Pros

  • Has the “Clutch Gene”. Watson consistently rises to the occasion and plays his best in the biggest moments. Completed 67% of his passes, with 16 touchdowns to 2 interceptions in the fourth quarter.
  • High character with sterling intangibles. Is the unquestioned leader of the Clemson team.
  • Shows the ability to scan the field, read defenses, and quickly process the information.
  • Flashes the ability to manipulate defenses with his feet and eyes.
  • Excellent athletic ability to extend plays or make defenses pay on scrambles.
  • Usually an accurate passer.

Cons

  • Played in a spread offense, so adjusting to playing under center could take time.
  • Occasionally loses track of defenders, leading to interceptions.
  • Only adequate arm strength. Might struggle to drive the ball downfield in poor conditions.
  • While not especially slight (like Robert Griffin III or Teddy Bridgewater), Watson’s tendency to scramble could lead to injuries when he starts taking hits from NFL defenders

Does He Fit With The Giants?

There is more than a bit of projection involved in answering whether or not Watson fits in the Giants’ offense.

Under Ben McAdoo, they do take fewer deep shots than under Kevin Gilbride, so his lack of arm strength is less of an issue, but even throwing short in Giants’ Stadium can get squirrelly on bad enough Sundays. Watson would bring an athleticism to the position that Eli Manning can’t hope to match, and that might appeal to McAdoo.

But what, I think, would really appeal to the Giants are Watson’s intangibles. Watson has proven to be an impressive and unflappable leader, even lifting his team to a come-from-behind championship against an opponent that was commonly considered to be the best team in the country (which should be familiar to the Giants).

He can handle the spotlight and thrives under pressure, two prerequisites for playing in New York (even if it’s actually New Jersey).

Prospect Video

Big Board Rankings

Big Blue View - 14th overall

CBS Sports - 17th overall

Draft Countdown - 36th overall

Draft Tek - 19th overall

Final Thoughts

None of the quarterbacks available in the 2017 NFL Draft are instant starters. All of them are either inexperienced or come out of offensive systems that are only tangentially related to the NFL game. That doesn’t mean that they are untalented or can’t become NFL starters or even franchise quarterbacks. It just means that they are all “developmental” prospects.

They QBs considered to be top prospects will still likely go early in the draft, because regardless of the draft class, the NFL’s thirst for starting quarterbacks will not go away. Watson is in a group of three to five (depending on who you talk to) quarterbacks that are expected to be drafted early and become players that franchises can depend on. And while he doesn’t have the arm strength NFL scouts normally drool over, he has a number of other traits that should make him a coach’s dream.