Speaking ahead of the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, Swinney said Tuesday that the Cleveland Browns—or any other team—would be passing up the opportunity to draft Michael Jordan should they overlook the Tigers quarterback.
Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot shared Swinney's comments on Twitter:
Watson was already considered one of the top quarterbacks in the 2017 draft class before his huge performance against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. He threw for 420 yards and three touchdowns and led Clemson on the game-winning drive in the final seconds.
While the junior passer is a national champion and Heisman Trophy runner-up, Swinney dipped his toes in hyperbole when he compared him to the greatest basketball player of all time.
In some ways, Watson regressed as a junior. His 67.0 completion percentage and 151.1 passer rating were the lowest of his college career, while he tied for the second-most interceptions (17) in FBS.
Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel spoke to an NFL scout who questioned whether Watson was a stylistic fit in an NFL offense: "Obviously, he's an incredible athlete and has good size. He showed what he's capable of doing against Alabama last year. That was his best game of the season. But I just don't see him as the pocket passer like a lot of people prefer in our league."
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller talked to an AFC scout who also downplayed how much Watson's performance in the national championship game impacted his draft stock: "Yes, but not as much as you guys want to think. It helps that he showed poise in a big game. It helped that after he got rocked a few times he didn't crumble. But that doesn't erase the 30 interceptions he threw the last two seasons or his lack of downfield accuracy."
It's possible Watson could end up in Cleveland without going No. 1, as the Browns have both the first and 12th selections.
In December, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the Browns had Myles Garrett atop their draft board, while Miller added that Cleveland would likely target Watson with the 12th pick rather than first overall.
With the various predraft events in the months ahead, fans will get a better idea of both Watson's value and the Browns' intentions at the top of the first round.