I surveyed teams around the league to see where their initial draft grades were for Watson. Two playoff teams told me they had third-round grades on Watson. One said it was on the low end as a third- to fourth-rounder. Another playoff team told Walt that they had a third-round grade on Watson. Two other teams said they had second-round grades on Watson. However, a number of team sources think that Watson still could be a late first-round quarterback, similar to Teddy Bridgewater, because of the dire need at the position across the NFL. Watson will benefit from comparisons to Dak Prescott and will also benefit from coaches getting involved in the draft process during the spring. Watson threw the ball well at the combine and did well in the team interviews - as expected.
In this draft analyst's opinion, I would grade Watson as a third-round pick for the 2017 NFL Draft. Watson was off with his accuracy for a lot of his final year, displaying poor ball placement, especially when going downfield. He missed a lot of potential big plays as a result. Watson has major room for improvement with his field vision, ball placement, and accuracy. He did finish the regular season playing significantly better, but that doesn't make up for the inaccuracy in the first two-thirds of the season. He also threw way too many interceptions (17). In 2016, Watson completed 67 percent of his passes for 4,593 yards with 41 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He had nine rushing touchdowns as well.
On top of that, Watson played in a college spread offense that doesn't correlate well to the NFL. Thus, he's going to need to learn working under center, operating the huddle, footwork, not having coaching boards predetermine plays, calling audibles, calling line checks, and not being a running quarterback. There is no doubt that Watson has great intangibles as a hard worker with good character off the field and leadership in the locker room. Watson does have a good arm with a quick release, mobility, toughness, and is a winner. Perhaps those strengths will be enough for him to overcome his negatives and be a starting quarterback.
Watson played really well to lead Clemson to the National Championship game, and in that title tilt, he threw for over 400 yards and four touchdowns against an Alabama defense that featured tons of future NFL talent. Watson completed 68 percent of his passes in 2015 for 4,104 yards with 35 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. On the ground, he averaged 5.3 yards per carry for 1,105 yards with 12 scores.
Watson has a decent arm, excellent athleticism, and can show some superb accuracy. However, he is undersized and doesn't play in a pro-style offense. His numbers are vastly inflated by his college offense. Operating under center will be one thing for him to learn. Watson also has to improve his field vision. He flashes good field vision to work through his progressions on some plays, but he is inconsistent and he can also look to run too soon. Watson won't be able to run as much in the NFL and he needs to get faster at working through his progressions. His pocket-passing process has to get quicker as well.
There is no writeup on this prospect yet...
MOCK DRAFT WRITEUPS