Clemson coach Dabo Swinney isn't downplaying Deshaun Watson's importance to the 2016 Tigers, nor is he backing away from the notion that his quarterback, if he were to enter the 2017 NFL Draft as an underclassman, could be the No. 1 overall pick.
"He's the franchise. He's the unicorn. The guy has no flaws," Swinney told Sports Illustrated's Campus Rush. "He's so talented, but he's a better person than he is a football player. He's so intelligent. He's brilliant. He just gets it and he wants it. He's hungry and humble for it."
Swinney's remark came in response to a question about whether Watson could be the No. 1 overall pick next year. Some of that speculation came immediately following Watson's electrifying performance in a 45-40 loss to Alabama in the title game of last season's College Football Playoff. An NFL quarterbacks coach, after watching the game, saw No.1-pick potential in the Tigers junior. Watson completed 30 of 47 passes for 405 yards against the Crimson Tide and added a team-high 73 rushing yards.
Swinney, of course, would like nothing more than to get two more college seasons out of a quarterback who has already been a Heisman Trophy finalist, led an undefeated regular season, and won the Manning Award as the nation's top player at the position. None of that means there aren't areas in which Watson can improve as a draft prospect, however. NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah recently scouted three of Watson's game tapes from last year, and believes the dual-threat star would benefit from adding some size and strength, and improving in his reading of defenses, among other things. NFL Media analyst Lance Zierlein writes in his assessment of the top CFB QBs to watch that Watson "needs to improve his deep-ball accuracy and fix his issues with staring down targets."