Deshaun Watson's decision to skip the Senior Bowl in January drew more than a few eye rolls from NFL coaches and talent-evaluators.
As outstanding as his college career might have been, capped by his heroic efforts in leading Clemson to a national-championship victory over Alabama, the quarterback wasn't seen as having the sort of can't-miss status that readily affords players a pass for refusing a chance to show a future employer what he can do.
Ultimately, Watson's absence from the Senior Bowl is unlikely to impact where he's selected in the NFL Draft, although some around the league believe he probably would have done more to help than hurt his stock.
Watson's game is widely considered raw, even though he threw for 41 touchdowns (including three in the title game) and ran for nine (including one in the title game) last season. So it would have been nice to see how he functioned in an NFL-style offense, facing an NFL-style defense, against some top-level competition in the days leading up to the premiere college all-star game. It would have been nice to see how he reacted to NFL-style coaching. It would have been nice for scouts around the league to have a chance to visit with him between practices and meetings, to get a better feel for what he's all about.
That opportunity comes this week, in Indianapolis, during the NFL Scouting Combine. Watson is one of 330 players invited, and he's on record as saying he will fully participate in every drill.
Teams will be eager to test his football knowledge during the 15 minutes they're allowed to spend with each of up to 60 prospects of their choosing. The Buffalo Bills, to whom multiple draft prognosticators have Watson going with the 10th overall pick, are expected to be one of the clubs that visit with him.
It is then that coach Sean McDermott, offensive coordinator Rick Dennison, General Manager Doug Whaley, and other Bills representatives will get the best feel for Watson's quarterbacking acumen. The offense Watson ran at Clemson is far less sophisticated than any of the ones he will operate in the NFL, but the Bills and other teams will look to get a handle on just how large of a learning curve he faces.
Two other significant topics of conversation NFL teams are expected to have about Watson are his height, weight, and the size of his hands.
Clemson lists him at 6-foot-3, which isn't exactly short but not considered ideal for the ability to stand tall in the pocket, especially with the natural crouching often done before a quarterback releases the ball. His weight is listed at 209 pounds. Exact measurements will be taken at the Combine.
Watson's hands, considered by some scouts to be smaller than preferred for an NFL quarterback, also will be measured.
“The height is the height," he told the Associated Press. "This is how God made me. My hands are this size. I can’t really control that.
"I can put on weight and be able to go out there and throw and run and talk in the interviews and (show) my knowledge.”
Those will help fill in more pieces of the Watson evaluative puzzle, although it will be missing some.