Watson headlines Gruden’s QB Camp on ESPN
Jon Gruden’s QB Camp series, a signature element of ESPN’s annual pre-NFL Draft coverage, returns for its eighth year this spring. In all, 50 quarterbacks – including 15 current NFL starters – have participated in the series. Notable players include Super Bowl champion Russell Wilson, former No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck, 2015 NFL MVP Cam Newton, two-time Pro Bowler Derek Carr and 2016 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Dak Prescott, who was mentored by Gruden just a year ago.
In the coming weeks, Gruden will welcome seven quarterbacks to ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando where he’ll spend time with each prospect in the film room and on the field. Excerpts of the visits will be featured the same day on SportsCenter, NFL Live and other shows.
Two-time Heisman Trophy finalist Deshaun Watson, who led Clemson to the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship, headlines this year’s QB Camp class. Watson is the most decorated college player the past two seasons, winning both the Dave O’Brien Award and Manning Award twice (2015 and 2016), as well as the 2016 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.
Watson and fellow QB Camp participant Mitch Trubisky of North Carolina are both projected as first-round picks by ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Jr. and Todd McShay in their latest NFL Mock 2.0 projections.
In all, the 2017 Gruden’s QB Camp class includes:
Joshua Dobbs (Tennessee)
Brad Kaaya (Miami, Fla.)
DeShone Kizer (Notre Dame)
Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech)
Nathan Peterman (Pittsburgh)
Mitch Trubisky (North Carolina)
Deshaun Watson (Clemson)
ESPN’s Super Bowl-winning coach and Monday Night Football analyst discusses each of the quarterbacks who will be part of his eighth Gruden’s QB Camp:
On Dobbs: “Dobbs is a dual threat. He’s from a no-huddle offense. He can really create plays with his legs. He played some of his best football when the team was behind and when the game was on the line. He brought the Volunteers back to win from double-digit deficits more than any guy in the country. He’s a great kid, very intelligent, and I think he caught peoples’ attention at the Senior Bowl.”
On Kaaya: “Kaaya is interesting. The Hurricanes combine the I-formation with the college spread system, and he’s an accurate passer. He got hit a lot this year, but when he has protection, he can throw the football. He relies on timing and he’s going to be a pocket-passer for someone who really wants to accentuate that.”
On Kizer: “Kizer is an underclassman like a lot of these guys. He has perhaps the biggest arm in this draft. He can really throw the football. Notre Dame had a difficult season and I am a little bit surprised that Kizer is coming out, but he can do some damage with his arm and he has some athleticism.”
On Mahomes: “Another underclassman, Mahomes is the guy who has really popped off the film for me. He’s very athletic – a baseball player. They throw it every single play at Texas Tech. He can get rid of the ball from awkward positions with a lot on it. He’s a gunslinger.”
On Peterman: “Peterman is a transfer from Tennessee. Coach (Pat) Narduzzi at Pitt recruited Kirk Cousins to Michigan State and I heard he compares Peterman to Cousins. He’s a pocket-passer. They run a very creative offense at Pitt and this is the one guy who beat Clemson – and they did it on the road. He’s one of the most improved quarterbacks in the country this year.”
On Trubisky: “Trubisky is a lot more athletic than people think. He can run for first downs and touchdowns. If you look at him on tape, he displays some real courage. He’s stay in the pocket under intense fire and throws strikes. I just wish I had more film of him. He’s had just one year of work, but I am impressed with him.”
On Watson: “Watson has the best resume of anyone. He has an unbelievable amount of production and an impressive record – 32 wins in three years as a starter. He shredded some of the best teams in the country. He’s a dual threat with loads of intangibles. I am really looking forward to working with him to see how he spins it.”
On the overall 2017 QB Camp class: “There’s some unknowns this year, but this class starts with Deshaun Watson. His body of work is as impressive as any quarterback we’ve had come through QB Camp. I got the chance to see him live and I think he has a ton of ability. There are some underclassmen coming out who have questions that need to be answered. That’s why this process is exciting. But three or four years from now, I expect people will be saying this is a pretty good quarterback class.”
New episodes of Gruden’s QB Camp begin Tuesday, April 11 (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2) with additional shows airing across multiple ESPN networks and ABC leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft, including the Best of Gruden’s QB Camp on Thursday, April 13 (7 p.m., ESPN). (Note: The entire Gruden’s QB Camp TV schedule will be released later this month and available on ESPN Media Zone.) In addition, all past QB Camp shows will be available via ESPN Classic Video on Demand from April through June.