INDIANAPOLIS (92.3 The Fan) – NFL scouts find it hard for prospects to dramatically move the needle in a positive direction significantly at the NFL Combine, but Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson may have done just that this week.
That was the consensus among many in league circles I spoke with in Indianapolis following the on-field workouts for quarterbacks, a class regarded as not being good enough to warrant a top-10 selection for any of them, Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock praised Watson’s performance during his annual combine press conference.
“The guy that I thought really looked good today was Deshaun Watson,” Mayock said. “They all looked good. But his footwork was better than I expected coming out of [Clemson’s spread] offense and his accuracy was consistently outstanding. So I think Watson is a guy that just caught my eye.”
Aside from the glowing reviews from Watson’s workout which saw him show smoother footwork, a strong arm and accuracy, Watson was given quite the endorsement by Alabama defensive end Jonathan Allen when asked who the best quarterback was that he faced in college.
It was Watson and Allen, who faced him in back-to-back national championship games, explained why.
“Just his composure,” Allen said. “We hit him, God, I can’t even count how many times. We were trying to put him out, we were trying to crush him. And every time he just came back tougher. Just his competitiveness, best player I’ve played in college by far.”
What separated him from the rest?
“Just the mental aspect,” Allen said. “A lot of guys we played at the quarterback position, by the end of the game, they’re not really going through the progressions the way they were in the first half because they’re worried about the rush. Deshaun Watson played exactly the same in the first quarter as he did in the fourth quarter.”
Those are the details that Browns head coach Hue Jackson and the personnel department are looking for on film as they and other teams try to project just whether or not he can adapt to a pro style offense after running Clemson’s version of the spread for 3 years.
To be fair, that question isn’t unique to just Watson.
It’s one that’s asked of many QB prospects coming out of college because the vast majority of programs have adapted a form of the spread offense.
Watson, who measured at 6-2 and 221 pounds with a 9 6/8 hand, ran a 4.66 in the 40 and registered a 30.5 vertical and 107 in the broad jump.
North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky, who was grouped with Watson during the throwing session, seemed to match Clemson’s QB throw for throw, displaying the same level of accuracy and arm strength.
“Trubisky is polished, even though he’s only [started one season at North Carolina], which bothers me,” Mayock said. “But even though he’s only [started] one year, you can see the quick feet. Three step, five step, ball comes out. Quick feet, quick release and accurate. I really like him.”
The Mentor, Ohio native measured in this week at 6-2 and 222 pounds with a 9 1/2 hand. He ran a 4.67 in the 40, measured a 27.5 vertical and a broad jump of 116.
If there was a quarterback who did not have a good day it was Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer.
The accuracy inconsistencies that Kizer showed at Notre Dame during a 4-8 season were on display Saturday as he missed the mark on a few throws. Kizer ran a 4.83, had a 30.5 vertical and finished with a 107 in the broad jump.