With the NFL Draft just eight days away, there still is not a consensus on who will be the first quarterback taken, and if the 49ers may in fact select a QB with the No. 2 overall pick.
North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky and Clemson’s Deshaun Watson are the two names that have been thrown around the most, with Mel Kiper and Todd McShay each having one of the two going in the top 10. ESPN analyst and former Super Bowl winning head coach Jon Gruden has worked both players out on his QB Camp show for ESPN, and said that he likes the National Championship winning Watson over the relatively inexperienced Trubisky.
“I like Watson,” Gruden said when asked which of the two quarterbacks he ranks higher. “I like a body of work – it stands for itself. Thirty-two wins, three losses, he’s played 15 games in back-to-back seasons, it’s unprecedented. Back-to-back championship games. He’s a dual threat. Unbelievable poise, and when the game’s on the line, ask Florida State what happens, ask Louisville, ask Alabama what this kid does, in the fourth quarter, game on the line, when Clemson needs to score. This guy is special. I just think his body of work puts him at the top.”
Though he helped lead Clemson over a heavily favored Alabama team in the National Championship game in January, questions have been asked about Watson’s decision making and mechanics, especially after he threw 17 interceptions last season, second most in the FBS. Gruden, however, compared his mentality to a young Jameis Winston and said he is not concerned.
“We went through every one of the interceptions and we also watched four or five other balls that could’ve been intercepted that were dropped,” Gruden said. “And every interception has a story behind it. Some of them are completely his fault, some of them he has nothing to do with; he got let down by a breakdown in protection, a ball got batted, dropped, whatever.
“He has an incredible retention of exactly what happened. He has a gunslinger mentality at times, but I am not concerned at all. I went through this with Jameis Winston a couple years ago. This is not a low risk offense at Clemson, they push the ball down the field and they rely on receivers to go up and play the ball at times. At lot of it is very correctable and I like the way he handled the criticism as well.”
Gruden, however, did mention that he thinks Trubisky would be a good fit for the 49ers, who are heading into the 2017 with Brian Hoyer as their stop-gap option.
“Mitch Trubisky fits their system,” Gruden said on an ESPN conference call. “… The thing I liked about Trubisky is he’s really into it. He’s attentive. He’s got really good retention. He’s a good communicator.”