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Deshaun Watson: I'm stereotyped as run-first QB because of race

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Passing for more than 4,000 yards last season at Clemson wasn't enough.

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NFL Media analyst and former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah takes a "first look" at college football's top players for 2016.

Neither, apparently, was Deshaun Watson's dismantling -- mostly from the pocket -- of Alabama's vaunted defense in the College Football Playoff title game.

Despite all his accomplishments, the best player in college football still feels as though he's battling a racial stereotype that he is, as a black quarterback, a runner first and a passer second.

"People think, 'Oh, he's a black quarterback, he must be dual-threat.' People throw around that word all the time. It's lazy," Watson told Bleacher Report. "The one thing I learned early on as a football player is people have their opinions, and I can't change them. But I can show them what they're missing. People have assumed that I have to run the ball before I can throw it most all of my career, all the way back before high school. It's a stereotype put on me for a long time because I'm African-American and I'm a dual-threat quarterback."

Watson, a junior who will decide at season's end whether to apply for early draft eligibility, was a Heisman Trophy finalist last year, and an NFL quarterbacks coach said in January that he has the potential to be drafted No. 1 overall.

However, NFL Media analyst and former NFL scout Bucky Brooks says Watson has reason to be concerned about being referred to as a dual-threat QB.

"Whenever you hear that dual-threat phrase, the perception is their legs are a bigger threat than their arm," Brooks said. "So it diminishes their standing as far as how they are viewed as a pro prospect. Guys like Deshaun Watson and some other quarterbacks have to fight against that stereotype to prove to others that they're worthy of being a franchise quarterback."

CFB 24/7 is marking the days to the start of the 2016 season by counting down the top 25 players in college football.

Watson called the dual-threat label a "code word."

While Watson is an accomplished rusher (1,105 yards with 12 touchdowns) last year, his effectiveness as a passer is undeniable. He completed nearly 68 percent of his passes for 4,104 yards, and shredded two of the top three defenses in college football -- Boston College and Alabama -- for more than 400 passing yards each.

With the proliferation of the spread offense in college football, plenty of coaches take advantage of quarterbacks who can run; Clemson's Dabo Swinney is only one of many. But pro coaches who have the same appreciation for athleticism in a quarterback are harder to find at the pro level, Brooks said.

"It becomes a bigger issue at the pro level, because we ask all quarterbacks to fit into a little box," Brooks said. "... There is a perception that dual-threat quarterbacks are more susceptible to being hurt. But when you really look around at the dual-threat quarterbacks that have been banged up, most of the time, they've been hurt in the pocket. Robert Griffin III got hurt in the pocket. Michael Vick, a lot of times when he was banged up, it happened in the pocket. We never talk about the traditional, classic, drop-back quarterback getting hurt in the pocket."

Watson got plenty banged up as a freshman at Clemson, missing several games with injuries, including a season-ending ACL tear. However, he didn't miss a game last year. This offseason, he added 10-15 pounds of muscle to strengthen his frame.

And with his play from the pocket, he can weaken the stereotype he feels stigmatized by.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.

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