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2017 NFL Draft: The Anatomy Of The Texans’ Trade-Up For Deshaun Watson

The details of the biggest draft move in Houston Texans’ history are surfacing.

NFL: Houston Texans-Deshaun Watson Press Conference
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Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Before we jump into maw of Day Three of the 2017 NFL Draft, let’s take a moment to sift through the smoke of that incredible first round from Thursday night where your Houston Texans made the boldest draft trade in franchise history.

John McClain of The Houston Chronicle provided the following in his latest article.

Note: It’s an excellent article, and I recommend reading the full copy.

Here are some incredible excerpts:


Smith had been impressed with Watson during his sophomore season in which he threw for 4,104 yards and 35 touchdowns and ran for 1,105 yards and 12 TDs.

Watson had been outstanding in the loss to Alabama in the title game. He riddled Nick Saban's defense for 405 yards passing and four touchdowns and added 73 yards rushing.

Fast-forward to Jan. 9 of this year - before the last game of the college season - and Smith was on the sideline doing pregame scouting at Raymond James Stadium. Of all the terrific players on both teams, Watson got Smith's attention more than any.

Smith watched Watson to see his focus, preparation, demeanor and how he interacted with his teammates on college football's biggest stage.

Smith watched Watson lead the Tigers to a come-from-behind victory, throwing for 420 yards and three touchdowns and running for another score. When he threw the winning touchdown pass, it gave Clemson its first national title in 30 years.

"I watched this guy play against a pretty good defense, and I saw him make all the throws necessary with velocity that he needed to put on the ball at specific times," Smith said Friday, one day after he traded up in the first round to draft Watson.


"When I met him at the combine, (Watson was a) very poised guy," coach Bill O'Brien said. "I felt like he was a guy that answered the questions very honestly, had a good memory, a good recall of specific plays that happened in his college career."

Watson was invited to Houston. On the night Watson arrived, he joined Alabama offensive tackle Cam Robinson for dinner with Texans coaches.

"It was actually the whole offensive staff that met with Deshaun, which I don't think is easy for a young man," O'Brien said. "Obviously, a bona fide prospect, a guy to come in here and have to stand up in front of nine guys in the room (including) the offensive line coach, receiver coach, quarterback coach (and) head coach.

"One of the things that impressed us the most was his ability to retain information with poise. We do several different things with our conversations with our quarterbacks. He handled it all very well. That impressed us."


On Thursday, Smith spent much of the day talking to teams in the top 10. The price would be too steep as the clock ticked down to Cleveland making the first pick. Teams wanted more than a first-round pick.

Smith spoke to Browns general manager Sashi Brown. Cleveland had the first and 12th picks. They selected defensive end Myles Garrett first overall. Brown said he would be willing to deal the 12th pick for the right price, so they negotiated.

Smith figured he needed to get ahead of Arizona, which had the 13th pick. Many NFL experts thought the Cardinals might take a quarterback.

The Browns liked Trubisky and hoped he might fall to them at No. 12. When Kansas City jumped to the 10th spot and selected Mahomes, Smith had to move. He wasn't worried about New Orleans taking a QB at No. 11, but he had to make sure the Texans were the team to get in front of the Cardinals in case another team wanted Watson, too.

Smith called Cleveland and got Brown on the phone. He agreed to swap first-round positions if Smith would give Cleveland the Texans' 2018 first-round pick. In March, Smith had traded a second-round pick in 2018 to the Browns to unload Brock Osweiler.

"As the draft unfolded, Bill and I kept talking about the possibility of doing it at various points and decided to make the move," Smith said.

It’s an incredible chain of events that brought a very special football player to your Houston Texans. Again, I urge you to read the full article, as McClain did a fine piece of writing that includes more details of this milestone event for the franchise.

I am VERY excited about the possibilities Watson brings to Houston for the future. Share your thoughts in the comments section below as we start gearing up the final day of the 2017 NFL Draft.