The 2017 Senior Bowl is officially underway with players arriving and getting measured, poked, and prodded. They will begin practice, meet with teams, and culminate it all with Saturday’s game. NFL coaches, scouts, and executives are on hand, and even the 49ers will be there with their current football operations department, minus a general manager.
There has already been one interesting development. Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson is a junior, but was invited to the game week because he completed credits to graduate early. However, he has since decided to not attend. And apparently this is in spite of the Cleveland Browns asking him to attend. It was expected that Watson would have been on the South roster, coached by the Browns.
Browns head coach Hue Jackson said he will not hold this against Watson, but you have to wonder what it might mean for their evaluation. The Browns likely want to see what kind of trade market exists, and if they were to say something negative about Watson, it might cause other teams to take pause in moving up. Watson had a strong national title game that might have increased his draft stock. I still think the Browns go Myles Garrett No. 1, and then look at quarterbacks with the 12th pick, but a potential trade is probably not entirely out of the picture.
The Browns, 49ers, and other teams will have plenty of additional opportunities to meet with Watson. I can see the value in participating in the Senior Bowl, particularly given the question marks that exist among all the quarterbacks. But if Watson is comfortable where things stand, then so be it.