GREENVILLE, S.C. — Dabo Swinney spent a lot of time with Deshaun Watson in the days leading up to the 2017 NFL draft in Philadelphia, Pa., last week.
The funny thing is, Clemson’s head coach was probably more nervous on draft night than his former quarterback awaiting his professional fate.
“He just had this total peace,” Swinney said on Wednesday at the Greenville Clemson Club Prowl & Growl event at Fluor Field. “Other people had a lot of anxiety. I’m sitting there going, what the heck. I’d be going crazy.”
Swinney described Watson’s demeanor before and during the draft as “incredibly relaxed” and “incredibly poised.”
“The interesting thing was this was the first time in his life that he had zero control over the situation,” Swinney said. “So that was a little different for him, but in typical Deshaun fashion, he showed such grace and poise and humility in every situation.
“To watch him in that situation, he had total faith that God was going to take him and put him right where he was supposed to be.”
Where Watson wanted to be is where he ended up.
The two-time Heisman finalist and national championship winning quarterback was selected No. 12 overall in the first round by the Houston Texans, who gave up a 2018 first-round draft choice to trade up and take him.
“One thing he did say beforehand was if he could just pick his place, he would have gone to Houston,” Swinney said. “All the places he went, all the visits he went on, if he could have just picked one spot, he would have gone to Houston because he felt like that was the best situation for him.
“He didn’t think it was going to happen because they were at (number) 25. He didn’t know how it was all going to play out. There were a lot of unknowns. But as he said, he went right where he was supposed to go, and it could not have worked out more perfect.”
Not only is Watson joining a franchise that needs a franchise quarterback, but a team that has a lot of pieces in place around the quarterback position to help the quarterback be successful.
Swinney compared Watson being drafted by the Texans to Watson winning the lottery.
“Of all the teams, he’s not going to a place where the team is really bad, and he didn’t go to a place where he’s going to have to sit for a few years,” Swinney said. “He’s going to a playoff-caliber team, and he’s got a chance to go compete for the job from day one.”
The Texans coveted Watson throughout the draft process, and they got their guy. But Swinney says they don’t know exactly how good they’re getting it with Watson.
“They don’t know it yet. That’s the best part,” Swinney said. “They know they’ve got a good player. Obviously they like him a lot — they went from 25 to 12 to take him. But they don’t really know what they’ve got as far as who he is, the stuff that you don’t see.
“So, I’m excited. I’m happy for him. He’s thrilled.”