Recently I said on Twitter that former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson is Geno Smith 2.0 (predicted NFL success, not personality or anything else) during a long-running disagreement with In The Loop host Cody Stoots.
To illustrate that point, I think it’s useful to strip away the names and compare their stats, physical size, and scouting reports.
Names had to be included in this article because promoting an article about mystery people without recognizable names isn’t a smart idea, but just look at the stats, physical traits, and scout opinions while blocking out your own preconceived values on the players if possible.
If you’re able to look at both players with an open mind, I’m sure you’ll see the surprising similarities between the NFL bust, and a prospect quarterback loved by the majority opinion.
Of course Watson could succeed, everything is a guess and projection at this point, but concerns over his weaknesses are more legit and warranted than many people believe.
Watson won all but a few of his games in college, but so did Vince Young and Tim Tebow, and like Young and Tebow, when people describe what Watson does well they most often mention intangibles first, which is a red flag for me.
Intangibles matter, but the physical and mental ability has to be there for intangibles to matter or add to that player’s game.
Both Smith and Watson put up huge stats, were considered one of the top passers in college football over their final two seasons, were highly regarded draft prospects who people at one time believed could be the first quarterback selected, but have red flags coming from playing in a spread system that didn’t require them to:
- Make tight window throws.
- Anticipate throws instead of waiting to see the throw come open.
- Go through a full progression read instead of making 1 or 2 reads before running, or pre-determining his throw before the snap.
- Throw with accuracy down the field since the Clemson offense featured a large percentage of short crossing routes and screen passes.
To be clear, I’m low on Watson’s NFL potential because of the problems listed above not because his stats and size are similar to Geno Smith. Comparing them serves the purpose of challenging poorly researched narratives and to encourage critical thinking.
It’s fine to like Watson as a prospect, but why do you like him?
Plenty of quarterbacks who won in college and were good leaders have failed in the pros, so looking past that, if his stats and physical traits are virtually the same, and the scouts opinion of the two players are similar, then how sure are we that Watson will have dramatically more success than Geno Smith?
Geno Smith Stats:
Junior Year – 65.8% completions, 4,385 passing yards, 8.3 yards per attempt, 31 TD/7 INT, 152.6 rating
Senior Year – 71.2% completions, 4,205 passing yards, 8.1 yards per attempt, 42 TD/6 INT, 163.9 rating
Deshaun Watson Stats (Didn’t play his senior season):
Soph. Year – 67.8% completions, 4,109 passing yards, 8.4 yards per attempt, 35 TD/13 INT, 156.3 rating
Junior Year – 67.0% completions, 4,593 passing yards, 7.9 yards per attempt, 41 TD/17 INT, 151.1 rating
Height – 6’2”
Arm Length – 32 1/2”
Hand Size – 9 1/4”
Height – 6’2”
Arm Length – 33”
Hand Size – 9 3/4”
As we get to the scouting reports, please note that all opinions are word for word from the original source, but re-ordered to point out the similarities and make comparing them easier.
Geno Smith NFL.com Scouting Report:
- Competitive, confident player who can lead a team with his physical attributes and willingness to work on his craft.
- Has gotten physically stronger over the course of his career, is a tough player who will hang onto the ball after a big hit and bounce back up.
- Tests defenses with his ability to get first downs and more with his feet, has speed to break off big runs and usually makes the right decision on when to take off.
- Has improved his accuracy greatly during his career, placing the ball very well at every level of the field.
- Fires throws into tight windows over the middle while also leading receivers open on the sideline and showing touch on fades into the end zone.
- Possesses a quick delivery, can get the ball downfield or move a team methodically by making quick decisions.
- Generally keeps his eyes downfield and feet moving within the pocket to find a target instead of looking to run.
Deshaun Watson NFL.com Scouting Report by Lance Zierlein:
- Tremendous leader and winner.
- Good pocket mobility and doesn’t show much panic when pocket gets noisy. Willing to stand in and deliver the ball against rib-wreckers on a clear path for him.
- Has called running plays could ignite a stagnant offense. Has instant juice out of pocket to make defense pay if rush lanes are vacated. Does a good job of sliding or eluding square collisions in space as a runner.
- Every meaningful passing stat improved in close-and-late situations in 2016.
- Fires hips through throws for improved drive velocity into tight windows.
- Has compact, over-the-top release that uncorks a tight, pretty spiral.
- Throws with adequate accuracy on the move.
The Houston Texans shouldn’t select Deshaun Watson with the 25th overall pick if he falls to that spot.
Don’t believe the opinion of this producer? Then listen to one of the hosts I work with, three-time Super Bowl Champ Ted Johnson, when he did a Ted Talk on Deshaun Watson.