Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson appears to have all the tools necessary to be successful in pro football.
Watson’s arm is strong enough to make every throw. He is speedy and shifty and seems to always know when to tuck and run. And throughout his college career he has been at his best in the biggest games.
But for whatever reason, some NFL draft analysts are not sold on Watson being a franchise quarterback.
Watson is behind North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky on just about everyone’s projections, and some, including ESPN’s Todd McShay, do not have Watson being selected in the first round.
Tigers co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott believes those doubting Watson will become believers as the draft draws closer.
“As the process goes on and people really do their research and they come in and they get to know the young man and they test his knowledge of the game… I think people will be surprised at what they find out,” Elliott said.
Watson has not officially declared for the draft, but all signs point to Monday’s game against Alabama being his last in a Clemson uniform.
He has been the face of Clemson football and at times the face of college football during his time with the Tigers, and Elliott believes his quarterback is prepared to go be the face of an NFL franchise next.
“The last three years have been great preparation, being at Clemson with the rise of the program and having an opportunity to be the face of the program, being esteemed as one of the best in the country, having the opportunity to experience the Heisman ceremony two years in a row, and then still being able to focus on everything else,” Elliott said.
“He knows when it’s time to have fun. He knows when it’s time to work. He understands the responsibility of being in the position that he’s in, and he’s growing every day.”
Watson admires several current and former NFL quarterbacks, including Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Russell Wilson.
What impresses Watson most about Brady, his favorite of the bunch, is not only the way he performs on Sundays but what he does leading up to the game.
“Just the way he goes about his business. Each week he’s prepared. He knows what he’s doing back there, and it just looks so easy,” Watson said. “He knows where he’s going with the ball. As a quarterback he leads his team, and you can tell everyone wants to play for him and do their job to the fullest because of the way he carries himself.”
Elliott knows that having a career similar to Brady’s will be difficult for Watson because the Patriots star is considered by some to be the best quarterback of all time.
Still, he sees similarities between the two as far as preparation, focus, attention to detail, winning off the field and winning on the field.
“People are going to be surprised when they get Deshaun Watson because there are a lot of people that don’t really know who he is,” Elliott said. “He’s going to win on the field. He’s going to make people around him better. He’s the ultimate competitor, and he has the ‘it’ factor to be able to lead your team to championships.”
Elliott said some people do not realize all of the little things Watson does that are key to Clemson’s success.
“We see it every day,” Elliott said. “We’re used to it. But it’s not our job. They’ll have to make their decisions.”
Who: Clemson (13-1) vs. Alabama (14-0)
When: 8 p.m. Monday, Jan. 9
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.
Line: Alabama by 6 1/2
Watson’s Role Models
The quarterbacks Deshaun Watson likes to watch and study:
New England Patriots
Almost 40 years old, he just keeps on winning.
New Orleans Saints
When he’s hot, he puts up huge passing numbers.
He was one of most accurate NFL QBs ever.
Runner/passer won this year’s Heisman Trophy.
Passed for more than 5,000 yards this season.