Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson turned down the chance to play in the Senior Bowl.
Watson’s representatives cited the long season and his continued training for the NFL Draft as reasons he won’t play in the Jan. 28 game in Mobile, Ala. Watson’s a junior giving up his final college season but has graduated, making him eligible for the game.
The Senior Bowl would’ve given NFL personnel the chance to see the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Watson up close. That includes the Cleveland Browns, holders of the No. 1 pick in next spring’s draft, whose staff will coach in the bowl.
Watson led the Tigers to a national championship with a 35-31 victory over Alabama. He threw for 4,593 yards, 41 TDs and 17 interceptions this season.
North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky and Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer join Watson as the top-ranked quarterbacks in this year’s draft class. But unlike Watson, Trubisky and Kizer weren’t eligible for the Senior Bowl.
The Browns are armed with two first-round picks (Nos. 1 and 12 overall) in April’s draft, and they need to determine whether Watson could solve their decades-old quarterback quandary.
“You'll never have the ratio of 900 NFL people to watch 110 players because after this it’s 330 players at the combine, it’s hundreds that are draft eligible and then literally hundreds, if not a thousand or more, that are street free agents that still have some viability to get into the league,” Senior Bowl Executive Director Phil Savage said.
Practices will run from Jan. 24-26 with the game on Jan. 28.