Updated Jan. 10, 2017
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.
Deshaun Watson just beat Alabama in the national championship. in the weeks prior to the game, Walt and 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. A high-ranking personnel man on a playoff team told Walt that they had a third-round grade on Watson. Two other teams said they had second-round grades on Watson. Another team thought 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.
In this draft analyst's opinion, I would grade Watson as a third-round pick for the 2017 NFL Draft. Watson has been off with his accuracy this year, displaying poor ball placement, especially when going downfield. He has missed a lot of potential touchdowns as a result. Watson's performance against Louisville confirmed the accuracy and ball-placement problems we've seen all season. He hasn't dominated, and his play is not that of a top quarterback prospect. All of this illustrates that Watson still has room for improvement with his field vision, ball placement, and accuracy. He did finish the regular season playing better, but that doesn't make up for the struggles in the first two-thirds of the season.
It's worth noting that Watson is undersized compared to your average NFL starting quarterback. On top of that, he plays in a college spread offense that doesn't correlate well to the NFL. Thus, he's going to need to learn working under center and operating the huddle; he must improve footwork, 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.
Prior to the championship, Watson completed 67 percent of his passes for 4,173 yards with 38 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He has eight rushing touchdowns as well.