DeShaun Watson is now a top-five college QB

Watson has found his groove late in the season, and is the reason why Clemson remains on top.

| 11 months ago
(AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)

(AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)

DeShaun Watson is now a top-five college QB

Deshaun Watson’s level of skill may be obvious now, but the Clemson quarterback did have a slow start to his 2015 season.

Expectations were high and while he didn’t play poorly early on, he certainly hadn’t taken that next step forward people had hoped. Watson graded well through Week 8, but was nowhere near being one of the top quarterbacks in the nation, ranking just 45th in the country in overall grade.

But in Week 9 against NC State, Watson showed everyone what he is capable of with a stellar performance that included five touchdowns, 383 passing yards, and an accuracy percentage of 82.8. He finished the game with a +6.4 overall grade, the highest his collegiate career.

In the subsequent weeks, Watson continued to build upon that performance. Since Week 9, Watson has the highest overall grade among quarterbacks at +24.1, just edging out Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield. His accuracy on deep passes has increased and his 530 yards on deep passes are the fifth-most in that timeframe. The sophomore’s 77.9 accuracy percentage on the season ranks seventh in FBS and he has the fifth-highest overall grade versus Power-5 opposition.

Watson’s passing ability is not his only attribute, though, as he can be a truly dual-threat quarterback. His run grade ranks sixth in the nation and first among those from Power-5 conferences. Similar to his improvement in the passing game, Watson has also steadily improved as a runner, including 100-yard plus rushing days against Florida State and South Carolina late in the season.

The potential Heisman candidate is playing at an elite level right now that few players have been able to match during the last month. Watson has done an impressive job leading Clemson to an undefeated record and the number one ranking heading into Saturday’s ACC Championship game. But in order to beat North Carolina and clinch a spot in the College Football Playoff, the 6-2, 210-pounder will have to continue his hot streak against an underrated Tar Heel defense that features one of the best cornerbacks in the nation, in M.J. Stewart.

Thanks to the support from Ohio Film Office.

| Analyst

Matt has been an analyst for PFF since 2013. He is also a contributor to 120 Sports and a former NCAA Division-III football player.

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