How do you put the cap on a stellar college career? By totaling 450-plus yards and three touchdowns against the Alabama Crimson Tide defense in the national championship game. Simple.  Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson just left his imprint on the college football landscape with a signature win over the top program in the country. Back-to-back Heisman-worthy campaigns set Watson up for a big stage and he took full advantage. Next up for Watson is a ticket to the NFL. Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk debate whether the MVP of the national championship game should be the top pick in the 2017 NFL draft.

Clemson’s Deshaun Watson throws during the first half of the NCAA college football playoff championship game against Alabama Monday, Jan. 9, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Riley: Other quarterbacks and players might be rated higher but no prospect has more of the “It” factor than Deshaun Watson. He’s mobile with a huge arm and savvy poise. He’s the type of player any franchise could use and what a quarterback-starved team like the Cleveland Browns, who select first overall, definitely needs. Watson is the most impactful player in college football right now and he should walk into Cleveland day one as the top pick overall in this spring’s draft.

Green: Watson is phenomenal but the scenarios surrounding Cleveland might not allow for him to go first overall. The Browns have holes everywhere and aren’t just a quarterback away from contention. They also have the 10th pick overall as well from a prior trade with Philadelphia so there might not be a need to draft Watson first when they can select another cornerstone prospect and grab another signal caller later. Watson has skills and talent but Cleveland will have some interesting options in a few months. 

Riley: Cleveland has tried to be cute in the drafts in prior seasons and it’s failed them more times than not. The Browns quarterback carousel is already a common joke around the league and they added to it this season by starting six different signal callers this year. Injuries, poor play and anything imaginable was a part of the quarterback spot this year in Cleveland and drafting Watson would go a long way towards stabilizing that position. The Browns have obvious holes but there’s none bigger than at quarterback. He would breathe new life into the city and secure Cleveland with a multi-talented athlete at the quarterback position who attacks with his legs and his arms. 

Green: The Cleveland brass hasn’t changed despite making poor decision after poor decision, and I can’t see them changing up their normal strategy Aside from 2015 when Cleveland didn’t draft a quarterback, the Browns had two picks in the first round in the 2014, 2012 and 2007 NFL drafts and they drafted a quarterback with their backend pick each time. The franchise has shown that whenever they have multiple picks in the opening round they’ll grab another position first before they draft a quarterback. It’s nothing about Watson or his ability; this is all about Cleveland and how they operate as a franchise. Watson perhaps deserves to go first overall but he won’t, simply by the nature of who’s drafting first overall.


Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley

AFRO Sports Desk