The 2017 NFL Draft is still awhile away. However, now is a good time to compare certain draft eligible players to those who are current NFL players.
QB Deshaun Watson – Clemson (6-2- 210)
NFL draft scouts have been salivating over QB Deshaun Watson since his freshman year in 2014. He showed elite athleticism, a strong arm, and fantastic moxie for a player his age. He tore his ACL halfway through the 2014 season but showed the heart of a lion by recovering in time for the start of 2015. He finished second in the Heisman and torched an Alabama defense loaded with NFL players like no one ever has. The sky was the limit in 2016 and he has been held to the highest of standards. With a surprising up and down season so far some are questioning how much of a “sure thing” the talented QB is.
NFL Comparison: Marcus Mariota (6-4- 222)
Mariota came out of the same type of spread offense as Watson and both shined because of their supreme talents. At 6-4, Mariota has some height on Watson but both are very comparable throwing from the pocket. Very similar throwing motions and both are elite once leaving the pocket. Mariota shined at the combine and his 4.48 forty yard dash was one of the fastest ever for a QB. I fully expect Watson to rival that number and possibly even beat it. Even though Watson is smaller I see him as a better runner because of the strength and determination that he runs with. The Titans have revolved their offense around the strengths of Mariota and if Watson lands with a team that does the same in the NFL Draft, he will excel in this league.
RB Leonard Fournette – LSU (6-1- 235)
Few players have ever had a reputation like Leonard Fournette did coming into his freshman season at LSU. He was being compared to Herschel Walker, Bo Jackson, and Adrian Peterson. Somehow this huge boulder of a running back with speed for days has lived up to all the hype. After rushing for over 1,000 yards his freshman year, Fournette took the college football world by storm in the beginning of 2015. Every week it seemed he made two or three highlight reel type plays and would have won the Heisman if not for the team struggling down the stretch. 2016 has been up and down because of a nagging ankle injury but when healthy he has looked like the most elite talent in the country.
NFL Comparison: Ezekiel Elliott(6-0- 225)
The jury is still out on Elliott but it will not take long to realize that he’s an amazing talent. At 225 and running a 4.47, no player in the NFL has the size and speed of Elliott. The scary thing is that Fournette is bigger and faster. Elliott was blessed at Ohio State with a great team around him and teams couldn’t game plan just for him. Fournette has gone through one of the worst coaching changes in recent history and along with a weak offense around him, he has seen eight and nine-man boxes. It’s highly unlikely Fournette could ever land in as good of a spot as Elliott but overall they are very comparable players. Each player loves to run downhill, initiate contact, and have game breaking speed. Elliott was used much more in the passing game and that is the only knock on Fournette’s game.