"I'd probably put Jameis ahead of him slightly on offense. Jameis was more in the pocket, but this kid has an X-factor Jameis had too, which is, like it or not, his personality wins over a locker room," Shaw recently told Sports Illustrated. "They love that guy. And Deshaun is going to do the same thing. His Day 1 in that locker room, guys are gonna say, 'Oh there's our quarterback. Coach, you tell me he's not going to start but I'm following him already.' That's the kind of person he is."
But if Shaw is correct, players will rally behind Watson before that competition is even complete. So from where does Shaw derive about a player who competed on the opposite coast from Stanford, 2,500 miles away? Along with witnessing Watson's fourth-quarter heroics in Clemson's biggest games, he's had some personal experience with him, as well.
"I was fortunate to go down to Clemson two years ago and watch spring practice with Dabo (Swinney) and Deshaun because he was injured, and I got to stand next to them and he took every single rep seriously even though he wasn't in. He knew every play," said Shaw, who also serves as a guest draft analyst for NFL Network. "(He) relayed every single play to Dabo. Evaluated the quarterback on every single play. He should've done this, should've done that. It was like watching a coach, and this kid just finished his freshman year. (Swinney) kept telling me, this guy's special. I spent a day around him, and there's a presence you can't fake."
Winston, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2015 draft, started as a rookie and has passed for more than 4,000 yards in each of his first two NFL seasons. If Watson's presence sells in the Texans locker room the way Winston's did in Tampa Bay, his competition with Savage will get some early momentum. Like any other quarterback, he'll have to put the ball in the end zone to maintain the kind of support Winston has had, but makeup and leadership shouldn't be an issue.