Dabo Swinney on Deshaun Watson: ‘He’s a brilliant football player’

Dabo Swinney acknowledged that he was struggling to find the right words to capture what his former quarterback at Clemson is all about.

When he said that any NFL team that passes on Deshaun Watson in the draft is “passing on Michael Jordan,” he wasn’t trying to say Watson already is a finished product equal to Jordan’s transformative dominance in the NBA and sports in general.

‘Not that he’s Michael Jordan today, but I think he has it in him’

“I have a hard time articulating the greatness that’s inside of this young person,” Swinney told Bruce Murray and Brady Quinn on the SiriusXM Blitz. “Not that he’s Michael Jordan today, but I think he has it in him that he can transcend his sport. Because he’s so much more than just a football player. And I’m sure when Michael Jordan was coming out as a sophomore, his three-point shot probably wasn’t as good as it needed to be, there were probably things people (were saying), whatever, but who he was, that’s what made Michael Jordan special. Who Jerry Rice was, that’s what made Jerry Rice special.

“It’s not the talent. There’s a lot of talented people, but it’s what’s inside of them. That’s the only way I know how to articulate what’s inside Deshaun to get people to understand him, because that’s who he is.”

‘The best preparer that I’ve ever been around’

Swinney sees so many great qualities in Watson, he struggles to name just one. But the first he mentions is located above the shoulder pads.

“He’s a brilliant football player,” the coach said. “Just from a football IQ standpoint, No. 1, the best preparer that I have ever been around. I went to college in ’88 and I’ve been around college football players for a long time and some great ones. I’ve never so consistently and passionately prepare like Deshaun. So he’s got this incredible work ethic to go with his talent, not to mention just unbelievable high integrity and character and all those things. And that’s a combination that is rare.

‘The bigger the moment, the more poised he’s been’

“His poise as a player, I think speaks for itself, if you just look at his record all the way back. He’s thrown one pick-six in his entire career. The bigger the moment, the more poised he’s been. I can’t tell you how many fourth-quarter drives he’s made. None bigger, obviously, than 70 yards against Alabama to win it all. He’s a rare guy.”

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