Browns

Deshaun Watson, the National Championship, and the NFL Draft

(John Bazemore/Associated Press)

In case you were busy watching The Bachelor, there was a semi-important game Monday night. No, it wasn’t any NBA or NHL game, it was a game between players who don’t technically get paid. In the College Football Playoff title game, the Clemson Tigers took on the Alabama Crimson Tide. To say that the game was an instant classic would be an understatement. While Clemson prevailed 35-31 on a last-second touchdown, what stood out the most was just how good Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson really is.

After losing to Alabama in the 2016 title game, Watson and the rest of the Tigers had revenge on their minds this time around. While leading Clemson to their first national title in 35 years, the redshirt junior completed 36-of-56 passes for 420 yards and three touchdowns while adding 21 carries for 43 yards and a touchdown against arguably the best defense in the history of college football. Watson produced for his team on the biggest stage when it mattered most. With the Tigers trailing 24-14 entering the fourth quarter,1 No. 4 showcased under college football’s brightest spotlight. In the final quarter, Watson’s offense scored 21 points, a total that was more than Alabama’s defense has allowed in entire games 12 other times this season.

Whether it was to make plays with his feet or arm, Clemson’s offense leaned on Watson for the majority of the game. He had two go-ahead touchdown drives in the final five minutes and put his body on the line through the entire game.

Whether it was helmet-crunching or bone-tingling hits or going all out to help his team win, Watson showed how a true leader should lead his team. Hit after hit, he continued to battle even with the full weight of his team on his shoulders. Toughness is hard to teach, and it seems as though Watson has the ideal toughness that successful NFL players have. The Heisman Trophy finalist’s team didn’t lead in the national title game until there was one second remaining in the game, but who’s counting really. All that matters is the score when the clock hits double-zero.

Following an impressive career at Clemson that consisted of almost 10,000 passing yards, 2,000 rushing yards, and 112 total touchdowns, Watson couldn’t have played any better in his final college game while bringing a national title back to the Tigers for the first time in 35 years. He not only is one of the main reasons why Clemson was able to win the national title, but he proved that he is one of the best quarterbacks in the country as well.

Now the question is, was the performance enough for Watson to be selected with the No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft? Do the Browns believe Watson is a franchise quarterback? Only time will tell, but after tonight’s performance, Watson—who has been previously criticized for his decision making and inconsistency—proved he can be counted on on the biggest stage. Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer may have better intangibles, Mitch Trubisky may have the size and local ties, but Watson proved Monday night that he is a damn good quarterback. He’s not only a quarterback who can use his feet or arm to make plays, but his all-around playmaking ability will help the Browns tremendously with his all-around tools.

  1. Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide were 97-0 when leading by double-digits entering the final quarter []

  • mgbode

    Watson showed all the good and the bad from his draft profile. Really a nice game for those wanting to get a taste of what type of QB he is (if you can tamper down the emotional response of the final outcome).

    Inconsistent? Yep
    Happy feet under duress? That was there
    Able to get on a roll and throw in rhythm over long stretches? 4th quarter, baby
    Trusts his WRs to make plays? Doubt Mike Williams comes as a package deal but we should inquire

    He’s not a No. 1 overall pick, but none in this class are. He could be the best of the QBs coming out – maybe not. That is the tough part.

  • RGB

    Until the OL is fixed, we’re just setting up any perspective QB for early retirement.

  • Garry_Owen

    As I said in WWW:

    Watson in Cleveland? Sure. Why not. Whatever. I was underwhelmed by him for most of the season, but last night was pretty impressive. Just don’t over-extend to get him. If he’s not there at 12, he’s not there. And if he is there, but there are players that are higher on the board, don’t take him too early or trade down. Please, Browns, just load up on talent.

    And I mean it!

  • Garry_Owen

    Loved his accuracy last night. On many critical throws, he put the ball where only his guy could get it (and admittedly, sometimes they couldn’t – but that’s better than the alternative).

  • tigersbrowns2

    i predicted Watson might slide in this draft … with last night’s performance , against a very good Bama defense , it will more than likely be the opposite.

  • NankirPhelge
  • tigersbrowns2

    i agree … if they take a QB at #12 , he still will not start. defense or O-line will definitely help. i guess all that really matters is who Hue likes as a QB … it may be someone that can be had later in the draft.

  • tigersbrowns2
  • Garry_Owen
  • RGB
  • mgbode

    Russell Wilson was taken in the 3rd round, expected to backup Matt Flynn, then impressed enough to start Week 1. Joe Flacco was to backup Troy Smith until he got hurt in preseason, and the Ravens never looked back.

    Basically, you never know. If you draft a QB, then you need to expect he could start sometime during the year. That sometime could be Week 1.

  • EdgewaterJoe

    #1 pick? No – but trade up from 12 with one of those other 2nd rounders and a 2nd rounder from 2018 to get him? I’d rather do that than use two 2s on Garoppolo — when did any Belichick QB castoff ever pan out? They’re castoffs for a reason.

    Get him (or Trubisky) and get Garrett and go from there, I say …

  • tigersbrowns2

    bing bing bing … winner winner , chicken dinner !!

  • tigersbrowns2

    if they keep RGIII , any QB we draft will more than likely be 3rd string to start the year.

  • tigersbrowns2

    LMFAO !! … i know , i know … “there will be no spending of the monies !”

  • tigersbrowns2

    at least this guy appears to always be doing his homework.

  • mgbode

    stop it please – I hope that we have all moved on (including Browns)

  • tigersbrowns2

    okay , i don’t see us just keeping Kessler … don’t you think that between RGIII & McCown , one of them will be here with Kessler next year ?

  • Garry_Owen

    Well, he told Jimmy to take Johnny . . .

  • Garry_Owen

    Moved on to what?

  • Garry_Owen

    I’m with you, tb2. Might as well stick with Griffin and Kessler for another year (and a draft pick). Griffin ain’t great, but what alternatives are there? Spend the whole draft on O-line and sign Romo?

  • Chris

    DE, Safety, OL, and either CB or another OL. First two rounds are done.

    And in the mean time, I’m going to go track down Watson and get him on video doing something stupid. We’ll pick him up in Round 3.

  • mgbode

    anything other than RG3

  • mgbode

    I hope not

  • RGB

    RGIII would be a keeper.
    If we had Schwartz.

    https://media.giphy.com/media/4pMX5rJ4PYAEM/giphy.gif

  • Garry_Owen

    Really? Anything? I don’t believe you.

  • Garry_Owen

    STUPID BROWNZ.

  • mgbode

    I am available. I can throw inaccurate passes and run away from a clean pocket. I am a capable fumbler.

    (yes, I was hyperbolizing but still)

  • CBiscuit
  • Chris

    You’ll fit right in.

  • Eric G

    While true, we had an elite OL for some years and still couldn’t get just one QB back there.

  • CBiscuit

    This looks like a screen cap for a commercial.

    “Ask your doctor about twice daily Peenetrine for your ED.”

  • Garry_Owen

    Seriously, though. I really do want to know what you think they should do. I know you’ve given it some thought (and if I missed it in a previous article, I apologize).

    I have no problem if they want to sign RG3 to a one-year contract, keep him, Kessler, and draft a QB. I don’t have any hope that Griffin can stay healthy, but I do believe that a full season, if we can get it, would be better for him (and the Browns) than what we got this year. Do you see a better, viable option? Existing FAs? Possible trades? Franchise QB in the draft?

  • mgbode

    I’ve only mentioned it in piecemeal throughout many articles. I’ll lay out the blueprint at some point.

    Quick notes:
    I’m not opposed to picking a QB at No. 12 if they believe the guy is there (firmly against that guy being worth No. 1 in this draft)

    Mahomes at No. 33 makes more sense to me

    Jimmy-G for No. 33 plus later picks is fine

    FA harder to gather because some teams will cut players we don’t expect. Right now only Cousins a top guy (and he’ll be franchised if needed). Of the other “known” QB FAs, Glennon and Sanchez could be better than what RG3 is but wouldn’t be comfortable starting them.

    But, biggest thing is that we cannot force the issue with QB. I just really don’t think RG3 is helping our WRs. I’d rather have Kessler start (I think he is already better than RG3).

  • Garry_Owen

    Thanks. I also agree that they should not force the issue. To that end, I like all of these, except the Jimmy-G trade, which seems like forcing the issue a little.

  • mgbode

    Think Jimmy-G’s skillset is similar to Mahomes except he’s had a few years in the NFL to learn, so he is more ready.

    The issue is that we’d have to pay him big $$ right away. I don’t like that part but I can be talked into it if we are fixing a few other spots too.

  • mgbode

    So RG3 could abandon more clean pockets?

  • mgbode

    Tunsil had a picture of him in a weed gas mask come out hours before the draft and he still went No. 13

  • Chris

    Then I have a lot of work ahead of me.

  • tsm

    Would we be able to get permission from NE to negotiate a contract extension with him prior to finalizing the deal? I would not want to have him play here in the final year of his rookie contract, and then leave as a FA or force us to franchise him.

  • mgbode

    up to NE

  • Garry_Owen

    A DUI was enough for Dak Prescott to drop to, what, the 4th round?

    [Disclaimer: G_O is not advocating DUIs as a good thing. Just offering Chris some options for his obviously nefarious conduct.]

  • Matthew Grant Anson

    Dude got hit so hard he did a 540 and then came back to win the game — I fell in love in that moment.

  • JM85

    I hope Hue agrees!

  • Believelander

    A second or third tier quarterback prospect maligned for inconsistency had one amazing game. This seems like a less than convincing reason to take him in the draft first overall.

    Honestly, as Cody Kessler projects to be at least a competent NFL backup quarterback – a level of play we haven’t seen from our *starters* since at least Tim Couch – we really, really shouldn’t spend the first overall pick on a stable of deeply flawed prospect QBs. Maybe if we were staring down the barrel of 2017 and wondering whether we are going to start the fused and reanimated corpses of RG3 and Josh McCown, Charlie Whitehurst’s Hair, Connor Shaw, or Kevin Hogan, we should be panicking and snatching the best possible QB prospect we can. But that’s not the case.

  • Believelander

    If he’s there 12th overall, or we can trade up from 12 to take him Not First Overall, sure.

  • Believelander

    Matt Flynn is an apt name to bring up after the Ballad of Six Touchdowns. I think a lot of people are going to be looking at Watson with rose tint due to an acute case of Matt Flynndrome after one signature win, rather than adding that one signature win to the body of work and continuing to observe it as a whole.

    Cody Kessler was drafted in the third round and expected to sit and develop, and ended up getting in because of injury. He performed well enough that we had no reason to take him out until our porous o-line got him injured too. We should probably cool our heels on overspending the #1 pick on second-line QB talent.

  • Believelander

    Not re-signing Mitchell Schwartz was the one infinitely puzzling move.

  • Believelander

    Yeah as I said before, if Kessler was another Brownsian tragedy at the QB position, we may need to be more thirsty, but he is at least fundamentally competent as an NFL QB. I’m not saying he’s championship caliber or anything crazy! But if you can at least slot a guy who can throw accurate passes and run an offense and move the chains and score some touchdowns, you don’t need to go hog wild on a QB.

    If you’ve already had a cup of coffee with someone, even if they’re a bit homely, you don’t need to go to a party and spend lavishly to pick up another homely date.

  • Watson at No. 1 overall? Hell, any of these QBs at No. 1 overall?
    https://thatswhatanxiousmomsaid.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/giphy-28.gif