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Scout: Watson critiques are overkill, heard same about Dak

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NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein is constantly talking to NFL and college sources about players in the college game. In this space each week, Zierlein will share some of what NFL folks are discussing in their circles.

Sources Tell Us: Sept. 7 | Sept. 14 | Sept. 21 | Sept. 28 | Oct. 5 | Oct. 12 | Oct. 19 | Oct. 26 | Nov. 2 | Nov. 9 | Nov. 16 | Nov. 23 | Nov. 30


The scoop: "Everyone just beats Deshaun Watson all to hell and I think it is getting to be overkill. He doesn't have great field vision and makes too many mistakes with the ball. I get it. But why aren't we talking about what he does? He's a winner who always seems to come up with big plays in big games and he's a great athlete with leadership skills. I heard some of the same concerns about Dak Prescott coming out and I think he's doing OK." -- NFC personnel director

The skinny: You can count me as one who saw holes in Prescott's game, and believed that they would prevent him from becoming a good starting quarterback in the league. I'm also concerned about the aforementioned problems with Watson. Prescott has had the luxury of playing behind the top offensive line in the game and beside Ezekiel Elliott. Very few quarterbacks in league history have ever stepped into that type of fortune. Watson, who intends to enter the 2017 draft, does have winning qualities that should, and will be, discussed, but taking care of the ball and reading defenses is a fundamental element of NFL quarterback play, and Watson must improve in those areas.

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The scoop: "I see the talent, but where are all the plays? I want him to create turnovers, make tackles for losses, make plays that swing games on defense. I'm not saying that he's not a good player, because I think he is. I'm just not sure that I would have him (ranked) inside my top 20 players this season. I still think he will end up being a safety who plays in the box. I don't think he's a linebacker." -- AFC South scout on Michigan LB Jabrill Peppers

The skinny: Peppers, a redshirt sophomore, has a big impact on games as a punt returner, Wildcat quarterback, linebacker and safety. With that said, this scout's concerns over production are understandable based on how Peppers could be valued in the draft. Despite playing in space, Peppers has only one career interception and one forced fumble. I also can see why some teams would have concerns about where to slot Peppers, but teams who have formulated a plan and have a clear-cut role for him are less likely to hesitate whenever Peppers' draft day arrives.

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The scoop: "He was my sleeper headed into the season, but that went out the window with the (quality) season he had this year. I think he's a second-rounder who needs time (to develop), but he'll probably get overdrafted. He's going to be a productive pro." -- AFC area scout on UCLA DE Takkarist McKinley

The skinny: I recently finished my draft profile on McKinley after hearing some of the in-season hype and it was a strange journey through the tape for me. On one hand, McKinley's hand usage and pass-rush skills were very basic and in desperate need of work. He also had some stiffness in his lower body that was easy to spot early on. With all of that said, the word "relentless" might not completely capture his motor. He has a slippery way of working off blocks and finding his way into sacks and tackle production. It doesn't always look pretty for him, but the effort is top-notch, and with coaching, he should projects as a solid NFL starter.

Follow Lance Zierlein on Twitter @LanceZierlein.

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