Now that the NFL Draft Combine has wrapped up, we now have the fullest view we can get of most of the draft’s prospects. This allows us to finalize rankings, or our so called “big boards,” and determine who us experts have ranked in order based on talent. There are plenty of talented prospects across all possible rounds of the draft, and there will surely be steals and busts labeled everywhere. Players will be knocked for random things, and we’ll hear plenty from “an anonymous scout” until the Draft rolls around in late April. One player that a lot of these topics will surround is Deshaun Watson, who is arguably the best quarterback in the draft. The former Clemson Tiger capped off his college career with a comeback win in the College Football Playoff Championship, and he will likely be QB1 and a top 10 pick. The goal of Describe in Five is to try to get the best picture of a prospect in just five .gifs, with an explanation behind each one. What better place to start than with the best quarterback in the draft?
1. vs. Alabama (CFP Champ., 2016)
This play shows Watson’s ability to understand coverages, and it came during one of the most important plays of the Championship Game. On third down, and just out of field goal range, Watson sends receiver Hunter Renfrow across the formation. Since Alabama’s cornerback (#2) follows him, Watson knows this is man coverage, with a good amount of space between the two.
The cornerback gives Renfrow a solid 7 or 8 yard cushion, which Watson takes advantage of to throw a quick slant pass to give Clemson an important first down and put them into better field goal range.
2. vs. Ohio State (CFP)
People have been knocking Watson for his low velocity score at the Combine, but when you watch his play it certainly isn’t noticeable. If he really is throwing the ball slow, he makes up for it with great anticipation, timing, and ball placement. He is able to keep the ball away from defenders like he does, threading a pass between a linebacker and cornerback to Hunter Renfrow for a first down.
3. vs. Florida State
One thing Deshaun Watson deserves credit for that he doesn’t often get is his toughness. His offensive line played poorly in 2016, and he had to take plenty of hits that many other signal callers around him weren’t faced with. In this play he shows off his ability to stand tall and take a hit while making a throw. One play after a missed facemask penalty by DeMarcus Christmas sacked him, Watson shifts out of the collapsing pocket, plants, and makes a throw to Renfrow for a near first down in the fourth quarter.
4. vs. Auburn
Plays like these are where the velocity problems will show up with Watson. Outside screen and swing passes are often going to be led by wide receivers blocking, and they cannot be expected to hold their blocks for more than a few seconds. The premise is to create a hole for the screen receiver to be able to get around those defenders and get to the open field. When the ball takes too long to get to the receiver, the blocks will be lost and the receiver is not going to get where he needs to go (in this case, the first down marker). While Mike Williams is one of the best physical pass catchers in college football last year, he should not be expected to beat a linebacker coming right for him and get the extra yard for the first down. If the ball is there sooner from Watson, he has a better chance, but it fails because of the slow delivery.
5. vs. South Carolina
The final play we’ll look at is one against South Carolina. While most teams don’t often continue passing while up by 35 points in the second half, Clemson did, and it worked out for them here. This play shows Watson’s anticipation skills. He has a wheel route run out of the backfield by running back Corey Fuller, which was a common play for the team in 2016. Before Fuller even beats his man, Watson is preparing to throw to him. He uses a pump fake to move the linebacker, which gives the receiver a better chance to use his speed to win the route. Watson then drops a nice, arcing pass over the linebacker to Fuller, who is able to bring it down in the end zone and collecting the 6th touchdown for the Tigers on the day.
While Watson may have some knocks to his game, such a few questionable decisions and a slow velocity, he is the best quarterback in this year’s draft. While he should not be given full credit for beating Alabama in the National Championship game, he is a quarterback that puts his team in the best position to succeed and will not be making mistakes when the game is on the line. Watson may not be the first quarterback picked in this year’s draft, but he certainly has the tools to be the most successful of the bunch.