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Deshaun Watson A Jordanesque QB Prospect?

Posted Apr 12, 2017

Clemson signal-caller won a lot in college and is counting on that translating to NFL

Clemson's Deshaun Watson is one of the top quarterback prospects for the 2017 draft.

When Clemson coach Dabo Swinney compared quarterback Deshaun Watson to Michael Jordan, Watson laughed.

Swinney’s point was that Watson’s drive to succeed would ultimately push Watson past the rest of the QB draft class in 2017 and turn passing on Watson a mistake. Watson did thank his college coach for the compliment.

“It’s pretty cool, but I’m no Michael Jordan,” Watson said. “I’m Deshaun Watson. My goal is one day to be able to have people talk about me like they do Michael Jordan.”

That’s to be determined, although with the NFL draft a couple of weeks away, it’s not about Watson’s comparison to Jordan as much as Watson’s comparison to the other top available quarterbacks that matters. Generally, the top four prospects at the position are Watson, North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky, Texas Tech’s Pat Mahomes and Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer.

(Cardinals coach Bruce Arians noted at the NFL owners meetings that he thought there were “six good arms” out there; Perhaps Cal’s Davis Webb and maybe Miami’s Brad Kaaya or Pittsburgh’s Nate Peterman would be the others.)

What Watson has on the others – and perhaps the one thing aligning him most with Jordan – is the wins.

Watson led Clemson to back-to-back National Championship games, beating Alabama this past January. The Tigers went 28-2 the past two seasons, and that’s after he won a state championship in high school.

“One thing that translates from college to the NFL is winners,” Watson said. “That’s all I’ve been doing.”

That Watson may be the best of the top QBs doesn’t necessarily make him high pick-worthy; many draft analysts have the quarterbacks back of the first round talent at best – although because of the position, there will be quarterbacks that go higher than they “should” because of their importance.

Watson may make sense as the best of the bunch, which is why he might not even be around when the Cardinals pick at No. 13.

“I thought he played his best when the lights were brightest against the best defenses,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said.

Watson did play in a spread offense, and getting under center is one of the main concerns Arians has about many young college quarterbacks these days. His interceptions went up this past season – 17 compared to 13 as a sophomore – but he also threw 88 more passes, and his touchdown passes went up from 35 to 41.

“If I were in (the scouts’) shoes, I would poke holes too,” Watson said, calling any issues “learning lessons” that will make him a better player.

Besides, if he came to the Cardinals, he’d have time to evolve with Carson Palmer set as starter.

“It’d be awesome to learn from a veteran guy that’s been there before and I can just watch how he works and won’t have to be pushed in that pressure or that moment right away,” Watson said. “I can sit there, learn, build my game, learn the offense and make myself a better player.”

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