With the NFL Scouting Combine beginning on Wednesday from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind., most of the talk from the draft experts is which quarterback will put themselves in position to be the first one taken off the board come April.
Heading into the combine, the top three quarterbacks are Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky and Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer. There are a lot of things to like about all three young quarterbacks and there are some concerns as well.
The NFL Network’s senior draft analyst, Mike Mayock, says he fascinated with Watson despite, as he says, he is not very “bullish” on the quarterback position in general this year.
“I don’t think any of them are ready day one.” Mayock said on a teleconference call with the media on Monday. “I think they all have different issues.”
But despite those issues, and he does have some reservations, Mayock likes a lot of things he see in Watson, especially when it comes to the intangibles.
“When you look at Deshaun Watson, I see a kid that went 28-2 in his last two years as a starter,” Mayock said. “I thought he played his best when the lights were brightest against the best defenses … His two games of ’15 and ’16 against Alabama. Put the tape on and watch the kid play. He’s a competitor. When the game’s on the line, he gets better. He does not shrink.”
However, Mayock’s concerns for Watson are the same concerns he has for any quarterback who comes from a spread offense. It doesn’t matter if it was Jared Goff, Paxton Lynch, Marcus Mariota, Johnny Manziel or Robert Griffin III (RG3).
“I don’t care who they are, they all have a major adjustment when they get to the NFL,” Mayock said. “And Deshaun Watson, like those other guys, has to show he can win in the pocket. When he sits there and that first read is available, he’s really good. He can make throws at all three levels with great accuracy. When that first look isn’t there, it starts to break down a little bit.”
Mayock says part of Watson’s instinct is to get out of the pocket and make things happen with his athletic ability. But when he can’t get out of the pocket is where Mayock is worried about his ability.
“When he stays in the pocket, his accuracy drops, I think his decision making drops,” the draft analyst said. “He throws a lot of interceptions where he doesn’t see underneath coverage, and typically it’s on his second or third read. So like most spread quarterbacks, I think that’s the challenge.”
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