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Move The Sticks notebook: Deshaun Watson 'needs to relax'

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  • By Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks NFL.com
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Editor's note: NFL.com analysts and former NFL scouts Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks of the Move The Sticks Podcast share some of their scouting notes on prospects heading into Week 5 of the college football season, including:

» Scouting buzz for an under-the-radar RB.
» A DE who's emerging as one of CFB's top defenders.
» Two WRs to watch in Saturday's biggest game.

But first, we kick off this week's notebook with Jeremiah's look at what one NFL evaluator wants to see from Clemson QB Deshaun Watson.

Clemson's Deshaun Watson was universally labeled the top quarterback in the country leading up to the start of the 2016 college season. That meant one thing -- his game was about to be picked apart more than any other player in college football. That's what we do as scouts and media members. We nitpick and look to find faults in the ultra-hyped prospects.

So far this season, Watson's play hasn't lived up to the hype. I reached out to a trusted personnel executive and asked him what he'd like to see from Watson this weekend (in a highly anticipated matchup against fellow unbeaten Louisville) as well as for the rest of his junior campaign.

"He's got tremendous ability but he just misses too many easy throws," he said. "He needs to improve his touch on fades and improve his ball placement on underneath throws. His lack of anticipation is a major concern. I think the hype might've gotten to him. More than anything else, he just needs to relax and let it rip."

I thought Watson showed some positive signs last week against Georgia Tech. He needs to maintain that consistency for four quarters. If he doesn't play at an elite level, Clemson will suffer its first loss of the season on Saturday night. -- Daniel Jeremiah

A rusher to remember: Scouts on the West Coast are smitten with the talents of San Diego State RB Donnel Pumphrey.

Despite lacking ideal physical dimensions (5-foot-9, 180 pounds), the 2015 Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year impresses evaluators with his electric stop-start quickness, wiggle and burst. An NFC scout recently told me that Pumphrey is "legit" and a "much better prospect that Ronnie Hillman" when he came out (Hillman was a third-round pick out of San Diego State in 2012). The scout expressed some concerns about Pumphrey's ultra-confident demeanor because it can come across as arrogant, but he believes the SDSU star has the tools to be an electric change-of-pace back at the next level.

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When I checked out Pumphrey against Cal in Week 2, I was impressed with his vision, balance and body control. He slithered in and out of holes while displaying the kind of lateral quickness that could make him a nightmare to tackle in the open field. While I worried about his size and frame, I thought he had enough wiggle to develop into a dangerous third-down back in a pass-happy system (think New England). If he can continue to show scouts that he can handle a heavy workload and is more durable than his size would suggest, I could see a team targeting Humphrey as a borderline Day 2 (Rounds 2-3) selection on draft day. -- Bucky Brooks

Tennessee DE Derek Barnett deserves more attention than he's been getting in the media: I haven't paid much attention to Barnett this fall. However, I couldn't help but notice the way he took over the game against Florida last weekend. He was a major reason the Volunteers were able to storm back and snap an 11-game losing streak to the Gators. He recorded 2 sacks in the second half and made several other impact plays against both the run and pass. He showed a variety of pass-rush moves. He can dip and wrap around the edge, bull rush or win with a nifty up-and-under inside move. He used his quickness to shoot gaps against the run and he almost picked off a pass on a WR screen. I need to do more tape study, but I think it's safe to say Barnett is playing as well as any edge rusher in the country right now. --Daniel Jeremiah

Stanford's Solomon Thomas is emerging as one of best defenders in the country: Stanford lacked depth along the defensive line last season and Thomas was forced to primarily play inside. He's moved outside to defensive end this season and he has been dominant. He has outstanding first-step quickness and the upper-body strength to bull through offensive tackles. He plays with passion and effort on a consistent basis. I can't wait to see him play against Washington on Friday night. I'll be at the game and I imagine the press box will be littered with NFL scouts. -- Daniel Jeremiah

Buzz building around Gators CB: Scouts descending on Florida's campus expect to come away convinced that Teez Tabor is the Gators' top cornerback prospect, but I've been hearing that UF's Quincy Wilson might be garnering more attention as a potential CB1. The 6-foot-1, 213-pounder has excellent size and length. He's a technician who's capable of snuffing out elite receivers on the island. An AFC college scouting director raved about Wilson's "physicality, toughness and instincts." In addition, he loved Wilson's competitiveness and that he asked coaches to allow him to take on the opponents' top receiver in certain games (see Ole Miss and Laquon Treadwell).

I've had limited exposure to Wilson, but my ears perked up when I heard the scout heap all kinds of praise on the Gators' young corner. He certainly has the size that every scout covets, but we will see how he holds up against the receivers in the SEC to determine whether he has the goods to be a top prospect. -- Bucky Brooks

Keep eye on WRs in weekend's biggest matchup: Most of the attention in the Louisville-Clemson matchup will be directed at two of the best quarterbacks in college football (Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson), but scouts will also spend a lot of time checking out the skills of the WR1s on each squad. Cardinals WR James Quick and Tigers WR Mike Williams are outstanding playmakers. Quick, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound senior, is a silky smooth route runner with strong hands and ball skills. Although he lacks world-class speed, he's fast enough to separate from defenders on vertical routes to create plays as a designated deep-ball specialist. In addition, he flashes enough wiggle and burst to make magic on "catch-and-run" plays over the middle.

Williams, a 6-foot-3, 204-pound redshirt junior, is a classic WR1 with the size, speed and leaping ability to dominate on the perimeter. Despite missing almost all of 2015 with a neck injury, he has re-emerged as one of the top prospects at the position, exhibiting a nice combination of size, speed and strength as a big-bodied playmaker. While he has been plagued with drops, Williams has made enough splash plays to pique the interest of scouts looking for a prototypical WR1 to build around. With the football world paying close attention to this Saturday night battle, Quick and Williams will have a lot at stake when they step across the white lines in Death Valley. -- Bucky Brooks

Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter @MoveTheSticks.

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.

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