ESPN’s Michael Wilbon has asked Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney to hold off on the John Elway, Jim Brown, and dare we say it, Michael Jordan comparisons when talking up his former quarterback Deshaun Watson.
However, The Pardon the Interruption host understands where Swinney is going with his comments during last week’s Senior Bowl practices.
Swinney told reporters in Mobile, Alabama after a practice last week that teams passing on Watson in the draft would be a mistake.
“They pass on Deshaun Watson, they’re passing on Michael Jordan,” Swinney said. “I mean, I don’t know what the heck I’m talking about, I’m just an old funky college coach, but Deshaun Watson is the best, by a long shot.”
Wilbon understands Swinney believes in what he is saying.
“Do I think he is insincere? No! I think he believes that,” Wilbon said on ESPN’s College Football Live recently. “And maybe when you consider a 32-3 record as a college quarterback, playing the competition that he has played against, maybe there is something to it that you can look back on.”
ESPN college football analyst Marcus Spears agreed with Wilbon that comparing Watson to Jordan was a lofty comparison. However, the former NFL defensive tackle said when it came to playing college football there was no one closer to that comparison than Watson, especially after what he did in the finals two minutes against Alabama’s defense, supposedly the best college football has seen in years.
“I think what Dabo is doing, though, he is promoting his guy because he actually believes he is the best quarterback and the best player going into this draft,” Spears said. “After what he showed in this playoff run, and quite frankly the last six games of the season, there was no question that he was the best quarterback, but not only that, the best player in college football.”
One thing it shows, says Wilbon, is how much Swinney cares for his players, which bodes well on the recruiting trail.
“Given the recruiting game and how important that is in college football and in college sports, you go into people’s living rooms and tell parents to trust you for this number of years,” the long-time journalist said. “You are going to take care of this kid. You are going to love him like he is your own son. That’s what Dabo Swinney is doing. He is scoring enormous points.”
Obviously, that isn’t what Swinney’s intentions are. He believes Deshaun Watson is the best player in the 2017 NFL Draft pool, and he thinks a team like Cleveland or anyone else for that matter would be foolish to pass over him. The Browns have the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft.
Some NFL Draft experts consider Watson to be a low first-round to second-round choice, and pretty much most of the mock drafts have him coming off the board as the No. 3 quarterback behind North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky and Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer.
Spears said Watson reminded him a lot of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, who every scout missed on in last year’s draft. Prescott, fourth-round pick, just led the Cowboys to a 13-3 record and an NFC East Division Championship as a rookie quarterback.
“I was able to be there in Tampa when (Clemson) played against Alabama, against a defense that we had not seen for years as good as Alabama’s and (Watson) single handedly willed Clemson to a win,” Spears said. “Deshaun has a lot of that makeup, and NFL scouts have to pay close attention before they give the measurables of Mitch Tribski or they talk about DeShone Kizer from Notre Dame. You better take another look at Deshaun Watson and see what he does when the lights come on. To me, that is what matters.”
Watson had four game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime this past season, including his 9-play, 68-yard drive in the final 2:01 to knock off Alabama in the National Championship game. He hit Hunter Renfrow with the game-winning touchdown pass with one second to play.
“What I worry about, though. Is (Swinney) putting too much pressure on him? That is a lot of pressure,” Wilbon said in going back to the Jordan comparison. “Michael Jordan changed the way sports is perceived worldwide. You just want Mr. Watson to make the team and contribute and hopefully get to the playoffs in a couple of years.
“That is asking a whole lot. Leave the name Michael Jordan out of any comparisons. Leave John Elway out, Jim Brown out. Just don’t go to those names, please.”
We are now taking orders for our limited edition magazine Mission Accomplished. Remember Clemson’s championship season with this great magazine from the staff that covers Clemson football 365 days a year. Order yours today to make sure you get a copy!