You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myAJC.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myAJC.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myAJC.com.

Deshaun Watson is under intense NFL scrutiny at combine


The quarterback shaming of Deshaun Watson is real.

Despite a decorated career and a national championship, NFL scouts are skeptical that Watson, who played at Gainesville High and Clemson, has what it takes to be a successful pro quarterback.

“All the coaches that I’ve heard from want to know if I can change the protections, run the offense and recognize defensive coverages,” Watson said Friday at the scouting combine. “Every team that I went to asked me those questions.

“I answered their questions, and they were very impressed. They know I’m not just another quarterback running the spread offense. I’m a guy who can operate and make good decisions and recognized what the defense is trying to do.”

Recent spread quarterbacks such as Jared Goff, Paxton Lynch, Marcus Mariota, Johnny Manziel and Robert Griffin III made those same pronouncements, but have struggled in the NFL.

Watson’s interceptions also are alarming to NFL scouts. He sometimes threw passes into coverage and didn’t recognized when a defender was baiting him into a throw.

“I understand that was going to come up,” Watson said. “It happened. It’s something where they are obviously going to poke holes. If I was in their shoes, I’d poke holes, too.

“But I take full responsibility in all of that. Sometimes I make a bad throw and on one, two or three, it was a bad decision. Those are lessons that I learned and mistakes that I’ve corrected. I plan to move forward.”

Watson has been through his medical exams with the 32 teams and has starting interviewing with teams. He measured just under 6-foot-3 and weighed 221 pounds. More important, he passed the hands test when his hands were measured at 9 3/4 inches.

“The first thing I look at in recruiting (a quarterback) is what size hands does he have?,” Gil Brandt said, the former NFL executive turned broadcaster. “I don’t want to have a quarterback that has eight- or seven-inch hands. I want a quarterback that had 9 and 3/4-inch or 10-inch hands.”

Watson and North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky are considered the top quarterbacks at the combine. Notre Dame’s Deshone Kizer, Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes, Pittsburgh’s Nathan Peterman and California’s Davis Webb are considered solid prospects.

“I tell you, Watson, from my perspective, I’m fascinated with the kid,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said. “I’m not bullish on the quarterbacks this year because I don’t think any of them are ready Day 1. I think they all have different issues. But when you look at Deshaun Watson, I see a kid that went 28-2 in his last two years as a starter.”

Watson also played his best at Clemson in the big games.

“His two games of ‘15 and ‘16 against Alabama, put the tape on and watch the kid play,” Mayock said. “He’s a competitor. When the game’s on the line, he gets better. He does not shrink.”

Watson finished his storied career with a 32-3 record as a starter. He finished third in ACC history in total offense (12,094), behind only N.C. State’s Philip Rivers and former Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd. He passed for 10,163 yards and 90 career touchdowns and finished first in Clemson history in career completion percentage (.674), passing efficiency (157.5) and total offense per game (318.3).

Watson believes he’ll be just fine making the transition to the NFL.

“It depends on what the team wants,” Watson said. “That’s not really the goal, to be the No. 1 pick. I just want to be drafted. Hear my name called, pack up and go play.”

He’s heard the shaming of the rest of this quarterback class, too.

“If you ask the other quarterbacks in this draft class, it just going to make the documentary and stories in five to years even better when they start talking good about it,” Watson said. “It’s a motivation. It’s humbling. They can say what they want to say. That’s just opinion. It’s not fact. We haven’t step foot on a NFL field yet so they don’t know what’s going to happen.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Atlanta Falcons

NFC South teams making moves, trying to catch Falcons
NFC South teams making moves, trying to catch Falcons

The past two NFC champions have come from the South Division, the Falcons and the Carolina Panthers. Tampa Bay and New Orleans have been active in free agency trying to catch the Falcons, and the Panthers are trying to revive their operation after dipping from 15-1 in 2015 to last place at 6-10 in 2016. With free agency basically over and the teams...
Would Falcons ‘opt out’ of color rush uniforms?
Would Falcons ‘opt out’ of color rush uniforms?

The Atlanta Falcons are scheduled to play a Thursday night home game in the 2017 season and wear red from head-to-toe as part of the NFL’s “color rush” promotion. A bylaw presented to the league by the Washington Redskins, however, seeks to give teams the opportunity to “opt out” of wearing the one-color scheme uniforms...
Fate of Dwight Clark, Gale Sayers reaffirm NFL not doing enough
Fate of Dwight Clark, Gale Sayers reaffirm NFL not doing enough

First came news that Gale Sayers, one of the more graceful athletes ever to carry a football, suffers from dementia so severe that he gives blank stares when asked to sign his own name. Then we heard Dwight Clark, whose strong hands gripped more than 500 receptions in his career, including arguably the most memorable in NFL history, struggles today...
Take the ultimate Falcons draft quiz
Take the ultimate Falcons draft quiz

The Falcons have the 31st pick in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, which will be held April 27-29.
Julio Jones’ injury update: ‘The foot’s good’
Julio Jones’ injury update: ‘The foot’s good’

Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, who recently had foot surgery, gave an update after his appearance at the state capitol Wednesday. “I’m good,” Jones told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The foot’s good. I’m two weeks out now, I think, but it’s good.” Jones was on hand to announce the name for the...
More Stories