Deshaun Watson could be nation’s most talented QB

Clemson's Deshaun Watson isn't eligible for the NFL draft until 2017, but he might be the best QB prospect in the country this season.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Richard Shiro)

(AP Photo/Richard Shiro)

Deshaun Watson could be nation’s most talented QB

Who is the best NFL draft quarterback prospect in the nation? It’s not an easy question to answer, especially when looking at the quality of play around the FBS last season (it was subpar at best).

–Many scouts will point to Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg’s size and potential, but the on-field results were not encouraging.

–Michigan State’s Connor Cook had a nice start to the season, but he had a rough finish and struggled mightily against pressure.

–USC’s Cody Kessler was the most productive of the returning quarterbacks, but even our own analysts came away unimpressed at times and his receiving corps was littered with athletes who made things easier for him.

–Cal’s Jared Goff is a personal favorite of mine, and he made several big-time throws last season, but he has warts of his own as he posted a number of uneven games to go with an otherwise impressive sophomore season.

–There are a number of other quarterbacks around the nation on the early-round “watch list,” but none inspire confidence at this point in their respective careers.

That brings us to sophomore quarterback Deshaun Watson, who may just be the best quarterback prospect in the country, even though he’s not eligible for the draft this season. As a true freshman, he posted a 79.9 overall PFF grade — 78.8 as a passer and 87.9 as a runner.

Watson made some of the most impressive throws of any quarterback last season, and while that’s just a small part of the overall picture, his downfield touch and ball placement was hard to ignore. He had an accuracy percentage of 51.6 on passes thrown beyond 20 yards, good for sixth-best in the FBS. And his athleticism and running ability are a nice add-on to his game — he’s difficult to tackle (forced 17 missed tackles) and able to make plays when the pocket breaks down.

Watson’s total package of throwing ability, production, and athleticism make him an early favorite to be the top quarterback off the board whenever he enters the draft (2017 at the earliest) — and with a 2016 quarterback class filled with question marks, Watson may be the best NFL prospect taking the field this fall.

| Senior Analyst

Steve is a senior analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has been featured on ESPN Insider, NBC Sports, and 120 Sports.

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