DeShaun Watson Mum on NFL Decision Next Year, Promises DecisivenessBy Russell Westerholm
DeShaun Watson stopped short of calling next season his last at Clemson, but stated he would be decisive when the time comes.
Watson was at the Clemson men's basketball home game Wednesday night, the same day the South Carolina Football Hall of Fame named him the Collegiate Player of the Year, according to The Associated Press. Watson is on pace to graduate next December, and admitted he wants to play in the NFL, but would not give an early draft declaration.
"If I have the opportunity to go to the NFL, I'm going to take it," he said at the Tigers' game against Pitt.
Only a couple seasons ago, Marcus Mariota returned to Oregon for his junior season with huge expectations and the real possibility of leaving a season of eligibility on the table. Mariota somehow met those expectations, winning the Heisman Trophy, leading the Ducks to the National Championship game, and being drafted second overall.
Now Watson seems to be going down the same path. His Tigers are already favored to return to the College Football Playoff title game, he is the favorite for the Heisman, and recent trends in the NFL will make him a highly rated prospect next winter.
Russell Wilson has led the Seahawks to back-to-back Super Bowls, Cam Newton has the Panthers in this year's Super Bowl, and the dual-threat QB is on the rise all over the NFL. Not only have more teams designed offenses for athletic QBs, but the position is just getting more athletic by default with the likes of Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck leading the way in the league.
But there are plenty of cautionary tales for investing too heavily in dual-threat QBs, who risk injury every time they leave the pocket. Watson has a Mariota- or a Wilson-like quality here: he is viewed as a running QB who does not need to leave the pocket to be effective. One unnamed scout told SI.com Watson is "mechanically very good. He's over the top with his release. He throws with velocity and touch and throws a very good deep ball."
In its evaluation of Watson, NFL.com listed "accuracy... on intermediate throws" as an area where he needs work. However, his size and arm strength make this an entirely correctable issue for him.