Former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, the pride of Gainesville, will be one of the most scrutinized players at the NFL scouting combine, which starts Tuesday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Despite his big-time pedigree and his leading the Tigers to the national championship, there are several scouting questions about Watson and his ability to guide a NFL team.
Are his hands big enough? What’s up with his accuracy? Why did some of his passes sail off target on crossing routes?
There is the knock that Clemson’s spread offense was quarterback-friendly and didn’t require Watson to read the entire field as contemporary pro quarterbacks do. There is also a concern that he can’t work through NFL passing progressions fast enough.
And that’s not all.
Watson was essentially a shotgun quarterback who will have to adjust to huddling, quicker play-calling and dropping back from under center.
These are among the reasons why Watson, despite his dynamic play over the past two seasons, is not the consensus No. 1 overall pick or even the consensus No. 1 quarterback heading into the combine.
“The first thing I look at in recruiting (a quarterback) is what size hands does he have?,” said Gil Brandt, the former NFL personnel executive turned broadcaster. “I don’t want to have a quarterback that has 8- or 7-inch hands. I want a quarterback that had 9 and three-quarter-inch or 10-inch hands, is what I like. We’ll find a lot more about him at the combine. I understand he’s going to work out and that is a good sign starting right there.”
The NFL doesn’t have an official hand size for Watson since he didn’t play in the Senior Bowl.
NFL Network’s Mike Mayock lists Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer as his top-rated quarterback. Others have North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky as the top signal-caller.
“The quarterback conversation this year is a tough one,” Mayock said.
Don’t overlook Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes and California’s Davis Webb, who are also considered NFL quarterback prospects.
In addition to Watson, there are 27 other players with Georgia connections who will participate in the scouting combine, which runs through next Tuesday:
Montravius Adams: Auburn, 6-foot-4, 309 pounds, DT, Dooly County High School. A 2012 AJC Super 11 selection.
Erik Austell: Charleston Southern, 6-4, 285, OL, Central Fellowship Christian Academy. He led the Bucs with 94 knockdown blocks.
Harrison Butker: Georgia Tech, 6-3, 210, PK, Westminster. He finished his college career with a 71.7 percent field-goal conversion percentage.
Chris Carson: Oklahoma State, 6-1, 215, RB, Parkview. Despite missing some time due to injury, he finished his senior season with a team-high nine rushing touchdowns.
Jarrad Davis: Florida, 6-2, 238, LB, Camden County. Started 22 of 35 games for the Gators.
Robert Davis: Georgia State, 6-3, 220, WR, Northside-Warner Robins. A three-time All-Sun Belt Conference selection.
Joshua Dobbs: Tennessee, 6-3, 210, QB, Alpharetta. Over 37 games, he completed 614 of 999 passes for 7,138 yards. He also rushed for 2,160 yards and 32 touchdowns.
Dylan Donahue: West Georgia, 6-3, 240, DE. Had 20 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks, setting the single season Gulf South Conference record.
Evan Engram: Mississippi, 6-3, 235, TE, Hillgrove. All-time Ole Miss leader in receptions (97) and receiving yards (1,394) by a tight end.
Amba Etta-Tawo: Syracuse, 6-2, 202, WR, McEachern. Played one year for the Orange as a graduate transfer from Maryland and set 10 Syracuse receiving records.
Gerald Everett: South Alabama, 6-4, 227, TE, Columbia. Caught 49 passes for 717 yards and four touchdowns last season.
Wayne Gallman: Clemson, 6-0, 210, RB, Grayson. Rushed for 3,429 yards on 676 carries, with 34 touchdowns over 42 games (37 starts). He added 65 career receptions for 473 yards and two touchdowns.
Antonio Garcia: Troy, 6-7, 302, OL, Charles Drew. Played 44 games over his career, mostly at left tackle. A first-team All-Sun Belt selection.
Josh Harvey-Clemons: Louisville, 6-5, 228, S, Lowndes. The former 5-star recruit started his career at Georgia. He was named to the AJC Super 11.
Bug Howard: North Carolina, 6-5, 210, WR, Wilcox County. Just had his best season with 53 receptions for 827 yards and a team-high eight touchdown catches.
Alvin Kamara: Tennessee, 5-10, 215, RB Norcross: Also played at Alabama and Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College.
Brandan Langley: Lamar, 6-2, 193, CB, Kell. A first-team All-Southland Conference defensive back and punt return specialist. Started his career at Georgia.
Carl Lawson: Auburn, 6-2, 253, DE, Milton. Played in 33 games with 20 starts. Had career totals of 24 tackles for loss and 14 sacks.
Jeremiah Ledbetter: Arkansas, 6-3, 280, DT, Gainesville. In two seasons, compiled 104 tackles, including 15 for loss and 7.5 sacks. Started his career at Hutchinson Community College.
Corey Levin: Chattanooga, 6-5, 3-5, OL, Dacula. Three-time All-American and two-time winner of the Southern Conference’s Jacobs Blocking Award.
Isaiah McKenzie: Georgia, 5-8, 175, WR. Spent three seasons in Athens. Played high school football in Miami.
Raekwon McMillan: Ohio State, 6-2, 243, LB, Liberty County. A first-team All-Big Ten and a second-team All-America selection by the Associated Press, Walter Camp, USA Today and the Sporting News.
Jalen Myrick: Minnesota, 5-10, 205, DB, Savannah Christian. Started all 13 games last season and recorded 41 tackles, 11 pass breakups and one interception.
Isaac Rochell: Notre Dame, 6-3 1/2, 290, DL, Eagle’s Landing Christian. Played in 49 games over his career and had 167 tackles, including 22 for losses.
Cameron Sutton: Tennessee, 5-11, 186, DB, Jonesboro. Played in 45 games for the Volunteers and had 127 tackles with seven interceptions.
Dalvin Tomlinson: Alabama, 6-3, 305, DL, Henry County. Appeared in 39 games for the Crimson Tide and had 122 tackles, including 10.5 for losses and four sacks.
Stanley Williams: Kentucky, 5-9, 196, RB, George Walton Academy. Compiled 2,025 yards over his final two seasons with the Wildcats.