The 2017 NFL Combine comes to a close on Monday, but quarterbacks have already finished up and departed to continue preparations for their Pro Day workouts. Quarterbacks did their on-field work on Saturday, and by several accounts, Clemson quarterback DeShaun Watson was the star of the day.
NFL Network provides coverage throughout the Combine, but they are not able to show everything, and what every quarterback does in his full set of drills. However, CBS Sports draft analyst Rob Rang was one of a small contingent of media allowed to watch the full gauntlet of quarterback drills. He had positive comments about Mitch Trubisky, Davis Webb, and Patrick Mahomes, but he was particularly impressed with Watson, comparing him to a strong performance from Marcus Mariota two years ago.
“Throwing immediately after North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky (who also performed very well), Watson delivered accurate passes all over the field, showing impressive rhythm, balance and accuracy in the complicated five- and seven-step drop passes that he was rarely asked to make at Clemson.”
Other analysts had praise for the quarterback:
Mike Mayock: “I thought Watson had better footwork and great accuracy throughout the whole day,” NFL.com’s Mike Mayock said. “I thought he was really interesting.”
Eric Galko, Optimum Scouting: “I think he’s shown the best quarterback-athlete that’s draftable in this class, which I think was kind of assumed,” Galko said. “I think a lot of quarterbacks here didn’t look great in the drills, as expected, and I think he’s shown he’s the most polished guy behind only Peterman in terms of comfort in drops.”
We have heard some rumblings the 49ers might be interested in DeShone Kizer, and GM John Lynch had extensive praise about his interview. However, Rang saw a quarterback with inconsistent footwork and ball placement.
“There is no questioning Kizer’s arm talent. The ball comes out of his hand as impressively as any quarterback testing this year in Indianapolis. He looked off-balance dropping back, however, and was sporadic with the placement of his front foot when stepping into his throws. As a result, Kizer sprayed the ball, forcing his receivers to adjust, including on relatively simple curl routes to right side in which on three successive passes he threw a very high pass, a well-thrown ball that would have hit his receiver in the chest and a very low one.”
Finally, Rang was pleased with the work he saw from Davis Webb and Patrick Mahomes. Both quarterbacks come from Air-Raid spread offenses, but Rang saw two quarterbacks who looked smooth in their drop-backs. The Air Raid has the quarterback working out of the shotgun, and getting used to playing under center can be a significant issue.
The 49ers have a lot of decisions to make at the quarterback position. Next up is Pro Day workouts, and then some private workouts. Players spend all offseason preparing for these various events, so the team will have to figure out ways to test them out on things they might not be as prepared for. The interview process and the drills all provide a testing ground, but agents have worked so extensively with players now that they are as prepared as they possibly could be. The private visits in late March and April could provide the 49ers with a better handle on each of these prospects.