Deshaun Watson will no doubt be a first round pick, but the Clemson Tigers “other star” should be the one on the New York Jets’ radar.
Another year, another Clemson-Alabama thriller.
This time, Clemson was able to accomplish what they could not during last year’s National Championship game, by stunning top-ranked Alabama, 35-31.
Watson was the star of the game, amassing 420 yards through the air, 43 yards on the ground, and accounted for four touchdowns against a stingy Alabama defense.
The cool, calm and collected quarterback had all the answers in the second half to eventually avenge last year’s loss.
In two College Football Playoff National Championship games against the Crimson Tide, Watson has totaled 825 passing yards, 116 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. Mind boggling, when you take into account that this was against two Nick Saban defenses.
What do the two games of a “lifetime” do for Watson’s draft stock?
The two performances certainly have helped Deshaun’s draft position, as mock drafts have shown that he was an early second-day pick, but now have him all the way up the draft board into the top 10.
With over three months until the kickoff of the 2017 NFL Draft, things can and will change.
The New York Jets are in prime position to land a blue chip player in the draft. The draft is a crucial exam this organization must pass, as a multitude of changes may take place to reshape the look of the roster.
Head coach Todd Bowles has already executed a number of firings to his coaching staff, and the same reaction to a 5-11 season could lead to the departing of some star players.
As it currently stands, quarterbacks, Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg look safe, while the Jets are almost certain to part ways with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith. Other players that may see their Jets tenure come to an end are Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker and Darrelle Revis.
If this feels like a rebuild, it’s because it is.
Woody Johnson, during a season-ending press conference, has stressed that he will be “patient” with Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan, and the team will build through the draft.
Is there a better opportunity for the Jets than the 2017 NFL Draft to find their “franchise” quarterback? Would Deshaun Watson not be the perfect quarterback to lead the Jets in 2017 and beyond?
Actually, he wouldn’t be.
As impressive as Watson has been over the past two National Championships, there are plenty of flaws to his game. Some touch and timing issues were consistently apparent throughout the regular season and a transition to an NFL offense may also be of some concern for the Clemson junior.
If Watson isn’t the guy, what about one of the other quarterback prospects that are sure to be selected in the first ten picks?
DeShone Kizer and Mitch Trubisky are two names that will be mentioned often as “franchise” type quarterbacks. One should fall to the No. 6 pick, where Gang Green will have a decision to make.
Should the Jets brass give Bryce Petty or Christian Hackenberg a full season to prove that they are the future, or do they select one of the top three quarterbacks, and hope to develop them quickly?
Another option would be not selecting a first round quarterback at all.
The 2016 season was a magical year for the Clemson Tigers, and especially Deshaun Watson. Though, he wasn’t the only Clemson Tiger to turn heads.
Wide receiver Mike Williams burst onto the scene, after a year of absence in 2015, and unavailability in the first matchup with Alabama.
Williams had a spectacular performance against a defensive secondary that has not been generous to top wide receivers. The wide-out was able to grab eight receptions for 94 yards and a red zone touchdown.
Williams’ game may seem familiar to the Crimson Tide fan base. It wasn’t long ago when they had the type of dominant receiver in Julio Jones who would leave a secondary shaking in their boots.
The measurables are nearly identical. Six foot three inches, 220 pounds, menacing size for the quickness that the two possess. Their numbers, similar.
Both amassed over 1,000 yards in their final college season, Jones over 1,100 yards, Williams, 1,300. Williams gets the edge in touchdowns, eleven to Jones’ nine.
When the Atlanta Falcons traded up for Julio Jones in the 2011 NFL Draft, they traded three picks in the 2011 draft (first, second, and fourth) and two picks in the 2012 Draft (first and fourth) to the Cleveland Browns, for the sixth overall pick.
The sixth overall pick, how eerie.
Jones has been every bit worth the haul the Cleveland Browns received in the exchange. He is arguably the best wide receiver in the League and led the NFL in receiving yards just a year ago. He also sports on his resume, four Pro Bowls and was selected twice as a First Team All-Pro.
For the Jets to draft a player that could duplicate this production, it’s something Bowles and Maccagnan will need to entertain. If he remains available when the Jets are on the clock after the top five is complete, there is no doubt their phone will be ringing off the hook.
Teams that become consistent winners have playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. Pairing Williams with Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson, Jalin Marshall, and his former teammate, Charone Peake, would give a young quarterback-receivers to grow with.
The Clemson Tigers will provide the NFL with a number of exceptional players, in which all should be considered by the New York Jets. Expect to see Deshaun Watson, Mike Williams, Carlos Watkins, Artavis Scott and Wayne Gallman, all to be selected in the first few rounds of the draft.
The National Champions had a performance for the ages. Now their stars will be highly sought after to help NFL teams become champions too.