Is Deshaun Watson a first-round lock for the NFL Draft?


The big question for Clemson’s Deshaun Watson right now — aside from whether or not he can lead the Tigers to the national championship — is where he’ll get selected in April’s NFL Draft. Opinions vary considerably heading into Saturday’s College Football Playoff semifinal game with Ohio State.

CBS Sports’ Dane Brugler updated his mock draft on Dec. 23 with Watson going No. 5 overall to the New York Jets. Brugler’s projections buck the trends of most analysts, with three quarterbacks — Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer, UNC’s Mitch Trubisky and Watson — projected in the top five.

USA Today (No. 9 to Arizona) also has Watson in the first round.

Brugler’s colleague at CBS Sports, Rob Rang, doesn’t have Watson in the first round of his latest mock draft. Rang does have Trubisky and Kizer in the first round, with Trubisky going No. 1 to Cleveland and Kizer No. 10 to Arizona.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper is another respected NFL Draft analyst who doesn’t list Watson as a first-rounder.

In a Dec. 7 Q&A on, Kiper indicated that Watson “has taken a step back” in 2016.

Kiper added, “I don’t see any other first rounders in the group” other than Trubisky. Kiper’s ESPN colleague, Todd McShay, has consistently projected Watson outside the first round as well going back a year.

The good news for Watson is that a strong showing in the College Football Playoff could raise his stock considerably.

In a scouting report of Watson for, Charlie Campbell said, “There are a lot of quarterback-needy teams in the NFL, and that will help Watson’s chances of being drafted higher than where he should go.”