Just about anybody who is anybody on the Chicago Bears payroll is at Clemson’s pro day:
Bears contingent here at Clemson's pro day includes Ryan Pace, John Fox, Dowell Loggains, Dave Ragone.
— Dan Wiederer (@danwiederer) March 16, 2017
For the record, that’s the Bears’ general manager, head coach, offensive coordinator, and quarterbacks coach. It’s safe to say this Bears contingent will have its eyes on, among other players, national championship-winning quarterback Deshaun Watson, who could be a fit for the Bears with the third overall pick despite signing Mike Glennon to a free agent contract last week.
Watson started the last two years at Clemson, throwing for 8,702 yards, 76 touchdowns, and 30 interceptions in back-to-back seasons in which he finished as a Heisman Trophy finalist. Individual success aside, Watson also raised his team’s level of competitiveness, as he led the Tigers to the national championship game against Alabama in the 2015 season and did again a year later, but pulling off the upset of the Crimson Tide this past January.
As one of the highest rated quarterbacks on the board, the Bears have an obligation to keep a close eye on Watson in order to determine what they will do with the third overall pick in April’s draft. Yes, the Bears committed more than $18 million in guaranteed money to Glennon on a deal that could be worth as much as $45 million over three years. HOWEVER, the construction of the contract allows for the Bears to escape the deal after one year, if they so choose.
It’s the kind of deal made with the protection of being able to cut bait with Glennon if the team stumbles upon its long-term quarterback elsewhere, whether it comes through the draft or a trade down the line.
Watson doesn’t have much left to prove after two impressive years on campus and a strong showing at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, but his efforts at Clemson’s pro day could still be beneficial. At this point, the only thing that could boost Watson’s stock higher is if he can show glimpses of being able to make the transition from running a spread style offense to manning a pro style offense.
It’s not as if he will be able to do that in just one setting, but talent evaluators will keep their eyes on his accuracy, mechanics, and footwork on Thursday. If he can conquer that, he could win over some skeptical NFL decision makers.
Of course, Cleveland or San Francisco could take Watson off the board before the Bears have a chance to do so. But if Watson is on the board when the Bears are on the clock, the decision that is made with that pick will tell us what we need to know about the team’s direction going forward.