Deshaun Watson delivered a performance for the ages Monday night in the College Football Playoff National Championship. Trailing by four, the Clemson quarterback led his team down the field and hit Hunter Renfrow for a game-winning touchdown with one second left against Alabama, the big, bad defending champs.
It was an instant classic, and Watson was the star: 36 of 56 for 420 yards, three touchdowns, and no picks, along with 43 yards and another touchdown on the ground.
Shortly after the game, Watson confirmed he was declaring for the 2017 NFL Draft.
The draft is still three and a half months away, but it’s fun to guess where Watson will end up. He just reached the pinnacle of college football, and soon he’ll be viewed as the savior for one of the NFL’s saddest franchises.
There is, more or less, a consensus about the top three quarterbacks in the draft: Watson, UNC’s Mitch Trubisky, and Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer. All three are possible top-10 picks.
Currently, Dan Kadar has Watson going to the Bears with the No. 3 pick. Rob Rang and Dane Brugler at CBS Sports both project him to the Jets at No. 6. In Chris Burke’s most recent mock draft at Sports Illustrated, Watson was the 49ers’ pick at No. 2.
There’s also the possibility of Watson landing with the Browns, who hold the first and 12th picks in the draft. If Watson decides to participate in the Senior Bowl, Hue Jackson and the Browns’ coaching staff will get a nice long look at him — just as the Cowboys did with Dak Prescott a year ago.
Jags sticking with Marrone
The Jacksonville Jaguars are the first team to check itself off the head-coach vacancy list. Jacksonville will retain Doug Marrone, the team’s assistant head coach and offensive line coach under Gus Bradley. Marrone served as the team’s interim head coach when Bradley was fired.
The move confirms that the Jaguars don’t want wholesale changes. The team did play well under Marrone’s leadership as interim head coach, beating the Tennessee Titans 38-17 and then losing narrowly to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 17.
To drive home the fact that the Jags aren’t looking for dramatic changes, look no further than Jacksonville bringing in its very first head coach, Tom Coughlin, as the executive vice president of football operations. Coughlin is getting a three-year deal, as will Marrone. General manager Dave Caldwell received a two-year contract extension.
If that wasn’t enough, it’s expected that Marrone will keep the defensive staff as well.
Now that the Jaguars head coach job is filled, the Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Rams, San Diego Chargers, and San Francisco 49ers remain.
Other personnel news
- NEW HOME FOR MIKE MCCOY? If Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph gets the Broncos job, he reportedly wants to bring in former Chargers head coach Mike McCoy on as his offensive coordinator.
- ON THE OTHER SHANAHAN: The Denver job isn’t Joseph’s yet. Kyle Shanahan interviewed for the Broncos head coaching job, and Adam Schefter reported that the team was very impressed.
- PEP HAMILTON LEAVING BROWNS: Browns assistant head coach Pep Hamilton is leaving Cleveland to join the Michigan Wolverines as the assistant head coach and passing game coordinator. The move reunites him with Jim Harbaugh; Hamilton was once the OC/QB coach under Harbaugh at Stanford. The Browns might be eyeing Greg Roman to replace Hamilton.
- NORV TURNER’S SON OUT IN MINNESOTA: After Norv stepped down as offensive coordinator midseason, the Vikings have parted ways with his son, quarterbacks coach Scott Turner. He helped develop Teddy Bridgewater, and Sam Bradford is coming off a season where he set the NFL record for completion percentage. Still, once Norv left, this seemed kind of inevitable.
- EAGLES NEED A NEW WRs COACH: Philadelphia has fired wide receivers coach Greg Lewis after his group struggled all year. Nelson Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham in particular were huge disappointments.
- DOUG WHALEY’S ROSTER CONTROL: Despite reports that the new Bills head coach would have more power, Whaley will retain control over the 53-man roster.
- LES SNEAD MAY NOT BE SAFE: The Rams general manager is reportedly in a "tenuous" situation, and he’s interviewing head coach candidates who may choose his replacement.
- NINERS GM CANDIDATES: According to NFL Network’s Mike Silver, Packers executives Eliot Wolf and Brian Gutekunst are top contenders for the 49ers general manager role.
Let’s talk playoffs
JORDY NELSON MIGHT BE BACK: After suffering broken ribs in Wild Card play against the New York Giants, it’s unlikely Nelson will be healthy enough to face the Cowboys, but Mike McCarthy didn’t rule him out.
DID JAMES HARRISON FORGET THE STEELERS PLAYED THE CHIEFS EARLIER THIS SEASON? Apparently so.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING: Paul Richardson is back and healthy at just the right time for the Seahawks, who need any offensive help they can get.
All about that money
THIS IS FINE: The 49ers file suit against Santa Clara over claimed contract breaches regarding their stadium.
JPP WANTS HIS MONEY: Jason Pierre-Paul says that he won’t take another one-year deal, stating that he’s proven he’s worth more even with "seven and a half fingers."
JAMAAL CHARLES ISN’T DONE YET: The 30-year-old says he still wants to play. He’s got one more year, and a $7 million cap hit, left on his contract with the Chiefs.