Former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson was selected by the Houston Texans with the No. 12 overall pick in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft on Thursday at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia, Pa.
Watson was the third quarterback take in the draft after Chicago took Mitchell Trubisky at No. 2 and Kansas City moved up 17 spots in a trade with Buffalo to get Patrick Mahomes with the No. 10 pick. Houston traded up from No. 25 to 12 with Cleveland to come and get Watson.
“I root for this kid,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said after Watson’s pick. “I like him as a person. I like how he conducts himself. I like how he leads his team. He is best when the lights are the brightest. That is the biggest complement you can give a quarterback. Watch both the ‘Bama tapes and tell me this kid cannot freakin’ play ball.”
Former Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams was picked at No. 7 by the L.A. Chargers, making Watson the second Tiger taken in the draft. It marked the second time in the last three years, Clemson had two players selected in the first round. It happened in the 1979 draft, the 1982 draft and the 2015 draft.
Watson will join former Clemson wide receiver Deandre Hopkins in Houston, who a few weeks back said he would love to have Watson throw him the football.
Last year, Houston won the AFC South and advanced to the playoffs.
“I love this guy,” former NFL quarterback and Super Bowl Champion Kurt Warner said on NFL Network after Watson’s selection. “I thought he was the most polished quarterback in this draft. What I love is that you have seen him in every scenario with him. You have seen him in the big moments. You have seen him after he made mistakes. He had to carry his team with his right arm and you saw him do that time and time again.”
Watson becomes the first Clemson quarterback taken in the first round of the NFL Draft since Steve Fuller was chosen No. 23 overall in the 1979 draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. Fittingly enough, Watson wore Fuller’s No. 4 jersey during his career after Fuller gave Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney permission to un-retire the number so Watson could wear it.
Watson did Fuller proud as he guided Clemson to two national championship game appearances and the program’s first national championship in 35 years this past season thanks to a 35-31 victory over Alabama in the national championship game, a game in which Watson threw for 420 yards and three scores while completing 36-of-56 passes.
Off the field, Watson earned his college degree in three seasons and was a two-time All-ACC Academic Team selection.
Watson was also a two-time Heisman Trophy finalist in his three seasons at Clemson. He finished third in the 2015 balloting with 148 first-place votes and second in 2016 with 269 first-place votes. He was the first ACC player to finish in the top three of the voting on multiple occasions.
Watson was also a two-time recipient of the Davey O’Brien Award as the nation’s best quarterback, one of only four quarterbacks who can make that claim, and the first since Oklahoma’s Jason White in 2003 and 2004. He was also a two-time winner of the Manning Award, the first ever, and compiled a 32-3 record as a starter, the best winning percentage in school history for a quarterback.
His 32 wins tied former Tiger greats Rodney Williams and Tajh Boyd with wins as a starter, a mark he tied in the national championship win over Alabama.
Watson was third in ACC history in total offense (12,094), behind only NC State’s Philip Rivers and Boyd. He threw for 10,163 yards and 90 career touchdowns. He is first in Clemson history in career completion percentage (.674), passing efficiency (157.5) and total offense per game (318.3).
In his career in the fourth quarter, Watson passed for 16 touchdowns with only two interceptions as well as believed to be the first quarterback in FBS history to pass at least 37 hours and throw 35 or more touchdown passes in the same academic year (2015-16).
Watson was a two-time team MVP, was the MVP of three bowl games, including the 2017 National Championship Game, was the 2015 ACC Player of the Year. He was also a two-time First-Team All-American and was a two-time All-ACC Academic Team (2015,’16) selection.
In the last pass of his Clemson career, he connected with Hunter Renfrow for the game-winning touchdown pass with one second left to beat Alabama in the national championship game.
—Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports