Clemson QB Deshaun Watson declares for 2017 NFL Draft after taking down Alabama
Watson's Clemson career comes to a close with a national championship
Deshaun Watson's final performance as Clemson's quarterback will be his 463 total yard effort in the Tigers' 35-31 comeback win over Alabama in Monday night's College Football Playoff National Championship.
After his incredible showing against the Tide to help Clemson capture its first title since 1981, Watson announced that he was entering the NFL Draft this spring. The star quarterback could not pick a better performance to go out on, as he picked apart the vaunted Alabama defense in a fourth quarter comeback that will stand as a classic title game for years.
Watson's pro prospects have been picked apart and scrutinized to the Nth degree this season, but he's a near lock for a first-round selection. He's currently ranked as the No. 2 quarterback prospect (behind UNC's Mitch Trubisky) and the No. 17 prospect overall on CBS Sports' Draft Prospect Rankings after completing 67 percent of his passes for 4,593 yards and 41 touchdowns in 2016. Turnovers have been of primary concern to evaluators as he tossed 17 interceptions this season, but on Monday night, for the second year in a row, he had his best game of the season in the biggest game against the best defense in the country.
Watson completed 36-of-56 passes for 420 yards and three touchdowns and did so by working all areas of the field and spreading the ball around to his many weapons -- four Clemson receivers had 90 or more receiving yards. His legs were a weapon, but not in the same way they were a year ago, as he did most of his damage with his right arm.
Watson delivered an all-time performance against an all-time defense on Monday night, and for NFL talent evaluators, that has to weigh heavy in their minds. For two straight years he has shown an ability to step up and play his best in the biggest games, especially late. He has all the physical tools, and while there appear to be occasional lapses in judgement that lead to turnovers, he's led his team to back-to-back title game appearances and combined for more than 900 total yards of offense and eight touchdowns in those two games.
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