For a good chunk of Thursday morning, as quarterback Deshaun Watson worked through his pro day script, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney chatted up one of his most inquisitive guests. Bears coach John Fox was on hand as college football’s national champions put Watson and 13 other draft prospects through their paces.
Fox and Swinney, for whatever it’s worth, were hip to hip for the bulk of Watson’s throwing session and for a while after it ended. So what exactly was Swinney sharing about the highly touted quarterback who over his final two seasons led Clemson to 28 wins, two playoff appearances and this past season’s national title?
In part, the Clemson coach said, he was offering an intimate perspective on Watson the person.
“The production speaks for itself,” Swinney said. “But it’s also the things you don’t see. It’s what is inside of him. It’s what’s between his ears. It’s the type of young man he is. He’s the complete package. … He’s chemistry on day one. He’s leadership day one. He changes the locker room day one. He makes everybody better day one. “
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With a huge gaggle of NFL talent evaluators on hand Thursday, no team came with a more impressive cavalcade than the Bears, whose observation party included Fox, general manager Ryan Pace, director of player personnel Josh Lucas, offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains and quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone.
Even after signing Mike Glennon to a lucrative free-agent deal last week, the Bears’ presence seemed to be a clear indicator that they’re still exploring their quarterback possibilities.
Thursday’s trip offered an opportunity to gather more intel on Watson.
The Clemson quarterback was measured in his own self-evaluation, understanding it was the last extensive piece of on-field evidence he would provide before next month’s draft.
“Solid day,” he said. “(I think I showed) I can do anything that they ask me to do. Everyone said that they’ve seen what they wanted to see.”
Watson aims to be the top quarterback drafted, in that discussion along with North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky and Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer.
Jordan Palmer, who has been working closely with Watson in California during the pre-draft process, sees little to worry about and thought the Clemson quarterback flourished during Thursday’s session.
“You saw a lot of zip on the ball,” Palmer said.
As pre-draft prognostication swirls, few draft experts are stamping Watson as a surefire top-five pick. But with the Browns, 49ers and Bears owning the top three selections, it’s feasible that Watson could still come off the board early.