One of the most controversial prospects in the 2017 NFL Draft is Deshaun Watson. Supporters believe he’s a franchise quarterback based on his clutch performances in the college playoffs when he led the Clemson Tigers to a comeback victory over Alabama. Critics, on the other hand, believe he has a high probability of failing based on his lack of fundamentals and poor decision-making at times.
After studying his tape, I believe a big reason for his inaccuracy and lulls in throwing power comes from his footwork. At the NFL Combine, his velocity was measured at 49 miles per hour. That is very low considering teams typically look for quarterbacks that throw in the mid-50s. Russell Wilson, for example, was measured at 55 miles per hour during the 2012 NFL Combine. More recently, Jameis Winston of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Marcus Mariota of the Tennessee Titans were measured at 55 mph and 56 mph, respectively.
Overall, I gave Watson a mid-second round grade and that’s because he has at least one to two full seasons before starting with a decent probability of busting. He has the leadership and intangible qualities that coaches look for in their franchise quarterbacks, but his unpolished play style makes me very hesitant to spend a high draft pick on him.
While the Seattle Seahawks don’t need a quarterback, there is a high probability that he gets drafted early in the first round. In my opinion, Watson’s best fit is with the New York Giants where he can patiently sit behind Eli Manning and learn from him at the tail end of his career. He can work with a quarterback coach with no pressure to compete for two full seasons. Also, he would have an extremely talented wide receiver corp with Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, and Brandon Marshall who was signed this offseason from the New York Jets.
Other teams that should consider drafting him are the Cleveland Browns with Hue Jackson, the San Francisco 49ers with Kyle Shanahan, and the New Orleans Saints to take over for Drew Brees after he retires.