New York Giants: Deshaun Watson Should Be Firmly On The Radar
Though he isn’t expected to be available at No. 23 overall in the 2017 NFL Draft, Deshaun Watson should be near the top of the New York Giants’ draft board.
The general consensus is that the 2017 NFL Draft is devoid of elite talent at the quarterback position. There are teams that need a quarterback, but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee that general managers will be willing to reach for field generals in this specific class.
In the event that Clemson Tigers legend Deshaun Watson slides to the New York Giants at No. 23, Jerry Reese shouldn’t let him fall any further.
The Cleveland Browns at No. 1, San Francisco 49ers at No. 2, and Chicago Bears at No. 3 are all in desperate need of a quarterback. The overall talent level is underwhelming for all three teams, however, and the absence of a transcendent quarterback prospect could result in all three teams waiting until deeper rounds to find a player.
The New York Jets at No. 6 and the Browns again at No. 13 make sense, but the conversation ends there in terms of the current draft order.
Though it may seem as though Watson is a lock to come off the board in the Top 13, it’s not that simple. Aaron Rodgers infamously fell to No. 24 when he was widely regarded as a potential No. 1 overall selection.
Dan Marino fell to No. 27 overall, while more recent instances include Teddy Bridgewater falling to No. 32 in 2014 and just one quarterback being drafted in the first round in 2013.
In the event of Watson enduring that same fate, the Giants shouldn’t hesitate to take Watson off the board.
Though they’ve experienced some measure of success in recent seasons, run-first quarterbacks tend to fare poorly in the NFL. As quarterbacks have become more athletic, so too have edge rushers, linebackers, and defensive backs.
A number of elite quarterbacks in the modern era have the ability to create with their legs, however, and it would behoove the New York Giants to embrace that trend.
Pocket presence is still the name of the game, but the likes of Andrew Luck, Aaron Rodgers, and Russell Wilson have all achieved success by keeping the opposition honest. Even players such as Andy Dalton, Dak Prescott, Alex Smith, and Matthew Stafford extend plays with their legs.
Deshaun Watson isn’t necessarily a run-first quarterback, but he has the dynamic athleticism that scouts can’t help but be intrigued by.
As opposed to undersized players such as Johnny Manziel, Watson is a 6’3″ and 215-pound quarterback with size and strength on his size. He’ll still need to bulk up, but he thrives when picking his spots as a runner.
Watson also has the ability to make plays with his arm—see: 76 passing touchdowns over the past two seasons—which makes him the complete package from an athletic perspective.
Big Game Player
If the New York Giants are going to draft a quarterback, they must find a player who’s calm under pressure. No matter what else one might believe about Watson, there’s no rational way to dispute that he’s a big-game player.
Whether the stats are pretty or otherwise, Watson has the poise and experience on grand stages to be fairly labeled as a winner.
Watson led the Clemson Tigers to back-to-back National Championship Game appearances. He also led Clemson to victories in the ACC Championship Game in consecutive seasons and won at least one game in the College Football Playoff in each season, as well.
After falling 45-40 to the Alabama Crimson Tide in an instant classic during the 2016 National Championship Game, Watson led Clemson past ‘Bama, 35-31, in the 2017 rematch.
As a national champion and a two-time conference champion, Watson has solidified his status as a big-game player. He threw for 420 yards and tallied four total touchdowns in 2017, and threw for 405 yards and four touchdowns to an interception in 2016.
Coupled with his 10 total touchdowns between two ACC Championship Games, Watson has the poise, confidence, and track record to continue to handle the pressure of the game.
Studying Behind Eli
It would be hard to find a better situation for Deshaun Watson than to study behind Eli Manning for a season or two. Eli Manning, who’s 36 years of age and nearing retirement, is a two-time Super Bowl champion who’s known to step up in the biggest of moments.
If Watson can learn how to win in the NFL Playoffs from Manning, he could develop into the star quarterback he’s capable of being.
Watson is regarded as a player with upside, but the working theory appears to be that he’s a year or two away from being ready to play in the NFL. He has the tools to be a pocket passer at the next level, but appears to be a player who needs time for development.
If that proves to be the case, then playing behind Manning would be a situation that could benefit him greatly.
Manning is playing well enough to help the Giants win games and make a run through the postseason, but he’s also 36 years of age. He’s played in more than 200 games and is closer to the end than many would like to think he is.
As the Giants prepare for the end of the Manning era, one can’t help but hope to see Jerry Reese find his heir apparent.
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Deshaun Watson could be the player whom the New York Giants are looking for.