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Scouting the National Championship: Allen, Williams, Watson

| January 9th, 2017

There are three players in tonight’s national title game between Clemson and Alabama worth paying special attention to from a Bears perspective.

Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama

By the time the draft arrives, Allen will be the consensus pick to the Bears…if he makes it that far. Daniel Jeremiah is in love with Allen, well-reported in his piece for NFL.com:

I reached out to five NFL personnel executives to find out who Allen reminds them of at the NFL level. Here’s a look at their responses.

Executive 1: Richard Seymour
“Allen isn’t as long or as tall as Seymour, but I see him as the same type of player. He’s very talented.”

Executive 2: Sheldon Richardson
“This is a tough one. He reminds me a little of Sheldon Richardson. Similar size. However, Richardson had more juice and Allen is stronger.”

Executive 3: Ndamukong Suh
“I haven’t come up with a great comparison for him. I do see some similarities to Suh when he was at Nebraska.”

Executive 4: Brandon Graham
“He is a really good player but I don’t view him the same as some of the top interior guys like (Geno) Atkins and (Aaron) Donald. He’s a tweener, similar to Brandon Graham when he was coming out of Michigan. Good player, not an elite player.”

Executive 5: Gerald McCoy
“He’s a tougher, grittier version of Gerald McCoy.”

Summary: That’s one vote apiece for Graham, McCoy, Richardson, Seymour and Suh.

Conclusion: I’ve struggled to come up with my own comparison for Allen. I compared him to Jurrell Casey after studying him this summer, but I no longer think it fits. He’s more powerful than Casey and I think he’s more versatile, too. In my opinion, he dominates college games similar to the way Suh dominated games at Nebraska. However, I think Suh had rare strength and power. I don’t put Allen in that class. I look forward to watching the rest of Allen’s season and hopefully I’ll be able to settle on a comparison with more time to study him leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft.

A defensive line of Allen, Goldman and Hicks in 2017 would make the Bears front an absolute force. Not the flashiest bunch by any means but strong, tough and borderline immovable.

Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

You know who Mike Williams reminds me of? Mike Williams. Seriously, can we stop with all these wide receivers named Mike Williams? It’s confusing.

The only way Williams has any chance to be a member of the Chicago Bears is if they say goodbye to Alshon Jeffery this offseason. Williams is a top ten pick.

From Lance Zierlein:

The scoop: “Really pretty looking when you watch him down on the field, but he’s not there yet. I think he’ll get there, but he’s not there yet. I don’t think he’s going to run as fast as people think. When college players get up here and find out that cornerbacks are faster and more physical, there is an adjustment period. I think it will take him some time to figure things out, but I think he’ll do it. He’s going to be good. I just don’t know if he’s going to be a star.” — NFC personnel director on Clemson WR Mike Williams

The skinny: Williams might not have blazing speed, but ever since November, he’s taken his game to another level. Scouts were anxious to see how he would bounce back after missing all but the first game of the 2015 season with a neck injury. Based on what I’ve heard from evaluators, they’ve seen all they need to from Williams, as he has fully rehabilitated his draft stock after showing that his toughness and ball skills haven’t diminished a bit. With that said, draft stock will definitely be on the line when Williams is matched up against talented redshirt sophomore cornerback Marlon Humphrey on Monday night in the national championship game. Humphrey is big, physical and has good recovery speed if Williams gets by him.

Here’s what I like about Williams: he catches everything. I think he’s going to have an Anquan Boldin-type career.

Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson

Watson is going to be the most debated player in this draft and here’s why I think Bears fans should pay attention.

  • The range of opinion on Watson has him being drafted anywhere from second overall to the middle of the third round. Bears won’t have to use the third pick to get him.
  • Watson is supremely talented. But I can’t imagine a scenario wherein he starts in the NFL next September. And this might be the exact setup the Bears are looking for. Start a Brian Hoyer or bring in Tyrod Taylor for a few years while grooming Watson for the league.
  • Watson has been invited to the Senior Bowl. The Bears are coaching the Senior Bowl. And every report on Watson describes him as a great young man who impresses the hell out of his coaches.

Former Bears scout Greg Gabriel is a child on Twitter and not a good enough writer to, you know, write. But I still respect the opinions of those who’ve done the job for an NFL franchise over the hundreds of internet folks who make up the Draft Industrial Complex. Here’s some of Greg’s piece on Watson:

Watson is listed as being 6-3, 215 pounds. Most scouts who have seen him in person say it’s more like 6-1½ and 205 pounds. We will find out for sure at the Combine. Regardless, he has a lean frame and will never be optimum NFL size.

As an athlete, he has quick feet, very good speed (4.60 estimated 40-yard dash) and excellent body control. He has excellent maneuverability in the pocket, a very good feel for pass rushers and can make and extend plays with his feet. He also does a great job throwing the ball with accuracy while on the run.

Watson plays in a fairly simple spread offense and for the most part it is a half-field-read scheme. He usually has two reads and possibly a check-down receiver. In all the games I viewed, he never looked at the opposite side of the field.

As a passer, Watson has a quick release and good-to-very good arm strength. He throws a tight ball and for the most part his ball placement is good. He generally does a good job seeing the field and usually makes good decisions. There are times when he gets impatient and will force the ball. Louisville and Pitt were two of those games. He threw three interceptions in each of those games. That said, he also threw for over 800 yards and eight touchdowns in those contests.

While he will make the occasional poor decision and poor throw, he also makes some throws that few college quarterbacks can make. He has some gunslinger to him and that can be both good and bad. He can make all the throws required to be a solid NFL quarterback.

Watson is a special talent. But there’s been hundreds of special talents who haven’t translated to the NFL. Will he be one of them?

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