Deshaun Watson proves critics wrong with sizzling Combine workout


by - Senior Writer -
Watson and Mike Williams share a laugh Sunday (Photo by Brian Spurlock, USA Today)
Watson and Mike Williams share a laugh Sunday (Photo by Brian Spurlock, USA Today)

We told anyone that would listen a week ago that former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson was better than many NFL “experts” were predicting.

On Saturday at the NFL Scouting Combine, Watson proved us right.

The last time we saw Watson on this kind of public stage, he showed off his skill set by leading Clemson on a game-winning drive in the National Championship win over Alabama.

It was the perfect way to end a season that started with such high hopes but saw questions and concerns arise as the year progressed. Watson entered the 2016 season as a top-10 pick, only to see his stock fall with a rash of interceptions and questionable decisions.

Watson, as always, saved his best for last in leading Clemson to a win over arch-rival South Carolina, a win over Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship, a win over Ohio St. in the Fiesta Bowl and the win over Bama in Tampa.

Still, the questions remained but Watson put many of those doubts to rest Saturday, impressing scouts and draft analysts alike in the throwing drills Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium. Watson showcased improved footwork, good pace, a strong arm and improved accuracy as he continues to make a case to be the first quarterback selected in the 2017 NFL Draft.

“I thought Deshaun Watson was the big winner,” said CBS Sports draft analyst Rob Rang. “His ability to raise his level of play in the big moments just continues. His footwork, the accuracy, the arm strength. I thought he really helped himself today.”

Watson, the best of the quarterbacks in a field that included North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky, Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer, Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes II, Pittsburgh’s Nathan Peterman and Brad Kaaya of Miami (Fla.).

“I thought Watson had better footwork and great accuracy throughout the whole day,” NFL.com’s Mike Mayock said. “I thought he was really interesting.”

Eric Galko of OptimumScouting.com said that Watson’s athleticism came to the forefront during the drills.

“I think he’s shown he’s the best quarterback-athlete that’s draftable in this class, which I think was kind of assumed,” Galko said. “I think a lot of quarterbacks here didn’t look great in the drills, as expected, and I think he’s shown he’s the most polished guy behind only Peterman in terms of comfort in drops.

“Most importantly, speaking with teams here about how his interviews were — and that was the question mark teams had — and he did well.”

Watson told the media earlier this week that he didn’t mind the criticism.

They obviously are going to poke holes,” Watson said. “If I were in their shoes, I would poke holes, too. I take full responsibility in all of that.”

Watson then said that playing at Clemson has prepared him for Saturday and beyond.

“Being the face of college football for two years, handling the success, handling all the criticism and the adversity … one thing that translates from college to the NFL is winners, and I think, being a quarterback, that’s the biggest thing being recognized, winning games,” said Watson. “That’s all I’ve been doing.”

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