While the patrons of the Innisfree bar may be lacking respect for former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, he has earned the respect of arguably the nation’s top defender from last season.

Former Alabama standout defensive lineman Jonathan Allen was a recent guest on Pro Football Talk Live and did not shy away from his respect for the best quarterback Alabama’s defense has seen since Johnny Manziel.

“Unfortunately, I hate to say it, but Deshaun Watson is probably the most mentally tough player I’ve ever played against. There’s no way around it. He’s by far the best player I’ve ever played. As much as I hate to say it, he’s the real deal. When I hear reporters say he’s a mid- or late-round guy, it blows my mind. I see him as a Top 5 pick. That’s just my personal opinion about it. He’s the real deal.”

Allen would know better than most when it comes to evaluating Watson, as the Clemson star lit up Alabama’s defense for 825 passing yards, seven passing touchdowns to only one interception and an additional 116 rushing yards and another score on the ground in the last two National Championship Games combined. But it wasn’t just the production from Watson when the lights were the brightest that impressed so many, as alluded to by Allen, it was the quarterback’s toughness.

Watson had his bell rung by Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster early in the 2017 National Championship Game and didn’t skip a beat. Clemson faced double-digit deficits in each title game and never flinched, despite facing the best defense the SEC had to offer. If not for a well-timed onside kick call by Nick Saban in the first game, there’s a good chance Clemson would be celebrating back-to-back titles this offseason.

Unless the two players end up on the same team at the next level, Allen’s difficulties stopping the quarterback may only be starting.

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