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Deshaun Watson likely headed to NFL after 2016 football season

Deshaun Watson

“If I have the opportunity to go to the NFL, I’m going to take it.”

This is what Deshaun Watson told the press last week, on the same day he was named the Collegiate Player of the Year by the South Carolina Football Hall of Fame.

While somewhat ambiguous, the quote serves as writing on the wall that the star Tigers’ quarterback will take his talents to the professional stage following the 2016 season.

NFL rules dictate that a college football player cannot enter his name into the Draft until he has three seasons of college ball under his belt. Therefore Watson, who will be considered a true junior when next season arrives, will be eligible to do so following the 2016 college football slate.

Watson’s spectacular play through his first two seasons at Clemson has likely made him a hot commodity for several NFL teams with question marks at the quarterback position, and, barring any major injury setbacks, he should expect to be a first-rounder in next year’s NFL Draft. With that being said, Watson would be somewhat foolish to return for his senior season.

All signs point to 2016 being Watson’s final season as a Tiger. An excellent student, Watson is on pace to graduate this coming December. Next season, Clemson will boast perhaps the best offense in the history of the program, making it a National Championship-or-bust year. As a result, Watson is likely leaning towards next season being his last in Clemson.

Injury concern will probably be a major factor in Watson’s ultimate decision regarding turning pro, and it is a factor that should push him in the direction of the NFL. Time is very precious for a football player, especially one with a history of major injuries. Watson’s one hindrance in his Clemson career has been his struggle with injuries during his freshman campaign, one of which was a torn ACL. While he has this golden opportunity, Watson should make the jump to the next level because another year in college only heightens his chances of suffering another major injury.

That would mean a lower draft position and a significantly lower rookie salary. Watson should not leave it up to chance and, regardless of how the Tigers fare in 2016, should head to the NFL. Already a Heisman finalist and an ACC champion, Watson has accomplished impressive feats in his collegiate career and still has at

least one more season to add to that list of achievements. 

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