Day One QB Targets
Deshaun Watson, Clemson (6’3 | 215 | 4.66)
The Bears seem at least semi-interested in Watson after sending a contingent of coaches to his pro day including GM Ryan Pace, HC John Fox, and OC Dowell Loggains. Pace has also constantly brought up Saints QB Drew Brees when asked about the quarterback position and he always references his leadership, consistency, and ability to carry the team to victory. Does any quarterback in this draft match that description better than Deshaun Watson?
As a starter at Clemson the last two seasons, Watson had a record of 33-3 and led his team to consecutive appearances in the National Championship game including a victory over a heavily favored Alabama team in 2016.
Watson has all the intangibles that NFL teams look for in a QB; He plays his best when the lights are brightest and the pressure is more intense than most college QBs ever deal with. He’s also put up over 800 passing yards in two championship games against the best defense in college football.
There are a lot of physical traits to like about Watson as well. He has an above-average arm with enough strength to make all the NFL throws with zip. He might have the best feet in the draft class as well, with a natural escapability in the pocket and enough speed to gain yards when he scrambles.
When Watson was in rhythm he looked unstoppable at times, completing a string of passes right on the money and showing the ability to throw with both touch and anticipation. Unfortunately for Watson, those stretches were less common in 2016 than they were the season before when he was considered a lock for the #1 overall pick.
Watson seemed to try and make things happen to often last season with too many forced passes and some really bad interceptions. His deep ball wasn’t as accurate either with plenty of under and over thrown balls to open receivers down the field.
Besides his inconsistency throwing the ball last season, Watson is also transitioning from a QB-friendly spread offense. He rarely had to read more than one side of the field, usually took snaps out of the shotgun, and had more passes batted down at the line of scrimmage than any other draftable quarterback (13).
Watson isn’t a flawless prospect, but neither are any of the other quarterbacks in this class. On the positive side, Watson has won more big games and made more clutch throws than the players he is competing against and has the potential to be a dual-threat weapon at the next level. On the negative, it will probably take Watson a season or two to adjust to an NFL scheme and he needs to improve his decision making to be an elite NFL starter.
Comps: Marcus Mariota, a taller Tyrod Taylor