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Quarterback Deshaun Watson 'slinging it' at Clemson pro day

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

By PETE IACOBELLI

AP Sports Writer

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) Clemson's Deshaun Watson put on an impressive show for NFL teams, making the case at the Tigers' pro day that he should be the first quarterback taken in next month's draft.

Watson went through a crisp workout for scouts and evaluators for all 32 teams, including three head coaches: Tennessee's Mike Mularky, Chicago's John Fox and Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin.

Watson, the Heisman Trophy runner up this year, completed 54 of 62 throws at Clemson's indoor practice facility. Most throws were quick strikes and right into the hands of guys like Mike Williams, Artavis Scott and Jordan Leggett - all who helped the Tigers win the national championship.

"Once again, he showed why he's the best," center Jay Guillermo said. "You don't get another Deshaun Watson. He had a good day."

Watson thought so, too.

"I just thought I'd throw the ball, do what I've got to do," Watson said. "I had fun with my guys one more time."

Watson said he expected to meet with seven or eight NFL teams for interviews and workouts before the draft.

He is in a quarterback competition with North Carolina's Mitch Trubisky and Notre Dame's DeShone Kizer to be the first QB off the board. Watson has been projected to picked anywhere from No. 3 overall to the bottom of the first round.

Watson did not run the 40-yard dash, do cone drills or any workout other than throw. The practice facility grew very quiet as the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Watson took snaps. When he let the ball go, though, people could hear the zip.

"You hear it whistling in the air," Guillermo said. "I turned back to him one time and said, `Man, you're slinging it.'"

Watson gave NFL executives on hand a prolonged look at him taking snaps under center, something he did not do too much of in Clemson's up-tempo offensive scheme.

ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay has said Watson has a good work ethic and the ability to win in difficult situations. Watson has demonstrated that part of his game, including the final, 2-yard TD throw to Hunter Renfrow with a second left that gave Clemson a 35-31 victory over Alabama in the national title game.

However, McShay believes Watson needs to improve his accuracy and decision making to be a successful NFL quarterback. Watson threw for 4,593 yards and 41 touchdowns this past season, but also had a career-high 17 interceptions while completing 67 percent of his throws.

McShay gave Watson a late-first round, early second-round grade. He understands, though, that the importance of a quarterbacks who can win probably means Watson will get picked in the top 10.

Williams was among the other Clemson players working out a pro day. The receiver is also a projected first-round selection and twice surpassed 1,000 yards receiving in his college career. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound wideout is considered one of the top receivers in the draft and, after not running the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, posted an unofficial time of 4.49 seconds in his second attempt Thursday.

Williams also caught most everything thrown his way, although he did drop a long ball Watson threw that Williams tried to snag with one hand.

Also taking part were Clemson's single-season rushing leader Wayne Gallman, career receptions leader Artavis Scott, tight end Jordan Leggett, top tackler Ben Boulware and sacks leader Carlos Watkins, all who are likely draft picks next month.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said he thought all his guys who participated did well. He believed Watson wowed NFL scouts and expected to have a long and productive pro career.

"He's the national champion. Back to back Manning (awards), back-to-back finalist for the Heisman," Swinney said. "He's a winner. But it's also things you don't see. It's what's inside him. It's what's between his ears."

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More college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org

Updated March 16, 2017

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