Deshaun Watson is one of the most accomplished college quarterbacks in recent memory. A two-time Heisman finalist, Watson led Clemson to the College Football Playoff in back-to-back years and carried the Tigers to a national championship win over Alabama in January.
Nevertheless, many NFL Draft prognosticators prefer Mitchell Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes, and others to Watson at the next level.
“To be honest, it feels kind of disrespectful,” Watson said in studio on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “But at the same time, I kind of stay in my own lane, and I just kind of look at it in a positive way. If that’s who they want to take, best of luck to them. They just have to find out the hard way. That’s how it’s got to be. It’s kind of annoying how they see that, (but) that’s their opinions.”
Watson’s accuracy has been criticized despite the fact that he completed at least 67.0 percent of his passes in all three of this collegiate seasons.
“I kind of laugh at that because my accuracy is better than most of the guys in the draft or the previous quarterbacks that went in the first round,” Watson said. “So that’s kind of a false statement. It’s just weird things that kind of pop up. I hear something about Mel Kiper talking about the Heisman, (that) I didn’t win the Heisman because I didn’t play well. I’m like, that’s the only thing you can talk bad about me? Because I didn’t win the Heisman? You talk about the other quarterbacks, they wasn’t even named in the Heisman. So it’s like, okay, now you’re just trying to make up something because you can’t find anything else. So I just kind of laugh at all this stuff and kind of, like I said earlier, stay in my lane and keep trying to get better.”
Watson finished third in the Heisman voting in 2015 and runner-up in 2016.
“That’s one of the goals I didn’t accomplish,” Watson said. “I graduated, national championship, ACC championship, state championship – all that stuff I accomplished, but that’s the one thing I didn’t accomplish. And it goes back to only controlling what I can control. That’s something that’s voted on. I feel like I done enough to prove that I can be the winner, but (congratulations) to those guys, Lamar Jackson and Derrick Henry, for winning it.”
Watson, 21, believes he can play for any team and succeed in any system.
“I think no matter where I go, I can adapt,” he said. “I’m a football player and I’m quarterback and I’m very coachable. So whatever they ask me to do, I feel like I can do it. Some people probably can’t adapt to that and people have their system and ways they want to do it. I always keep an open mind on what the coach wants me to do. I’m a sponge. I try to learn new things. I feel like all of it is the same: the decision-making, accuracy and timing and leadership. It comes down to being a quarterback. It don’t really matter what system you’re in.”
Regardless of what happens at the next level, Watson can always hang his hat on beating Nick Saban and Alabama in the national championship. Watson was 36-of-56 for 420 yards and three touchdowns against the Tide. He also ran for 43 yards and a score, as Clemson beat Bama, 35-31, for its first national title since 1981.
“It was crazy,” Watson said. “At halftime we were down and Coach (Dabo) Swinney is just walking around, saying, ‘Hey, we’re going to win this game. We don’t know how we’re going to win it, but we’re going to win this game.’ Everyone was like, ‘All right, let’s do it.’ We went into the fourth quarter down 10 points, and just the emotions, the energy and everything just changed. That’s when we took the lead.”