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Incompletions: Houston’s Got A Quarterback

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The masthead gathers around and gives their thoughts on the Texans’ 2017 NFL Draft.

NFL: Houston Texans-Deshaun Watson Press Conference
That’s a quarterback.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Brett Kollmann:

I had a second round grade on Deshaun Watson, so I'm not super enthused with giving up two first round picks (and essentially another second rounder, thanks to the Brock Osweiler trade) in order to get him. That being said, just because I had a day two grade on Watson doesn't mean he still can't be a good quarterback. It just means that the risk associated with him is significantly higher than most "first round quality" quarterbacks.

I have concerns with his arm strength and deep ball accuracy, which is what knocked his grade down the most, and he comes from an offense with entirely different terminology and concepts than most NFL teams. That being said, Watson does score very high marks in almost every other item on the checklist. His poise, leadership, and toughness are all impeccable, and he does have the mobility to create plays for himself when protection breaks down. Considering the state of the Texans’ offensive line right now, that scrambling ability may become essential to his survival.

In short, I see Watson as a younger version of Alex Smith. Is Smith a bad quarterback? Absolutely not. Is he the kind of quarterback that can single-handedly win his team games? Absolutely not. Watson, just like Smith, is the kind of quarterback you can win a Super Bowl with, but you better damn well have a good supporting cast around him in order to achieve that goal.

As for the rest of the Texans’ draft, I think they made up for the price tag of Watson by stealing Zach Cunningham and D'Onta Foreman on day two. I had a first round grade on Cunningham and a second round grade on Foreman, so both of those selections—at least to me—were insanely good values. After Brian Cushing moves on (whether voluntarily or otherwise), Cunningham can step in without this defense missing a single beat. Foreman also gives Bill O'Brien a gap scheme banger between the tackles that has a lot more juice in the open field than Alfred Blue. He should fill out the backfield rotation nicely.

Julie'n Davenport is nowhere near ready to start at right tackle in the wake of Derek Newton's injury, but his physical tools could potentially make him a formidable starter in a few years when he learns how to control his hands and kick-slide with any balance whatsoever.

I like Calvin Carlos Watkins as a situational interior pass rusher, though with how stacked the Texans’ defensive line is I think he will be lucky to play very many snaps as a rookie. That said, it never hurts to have depth in an already strong area of the roster.

I do not really see Treston DeCoud or Kyle Fuller as anything but camp bodies, but at that point in the draft that is essentially all you are looking for anyway. That's "diamond in the rough" territory, so hopefully both of those guys turn out to be diamonds.

Overall, I am very pleased with this draft class. The value picks on day two make up for the "lost value" in the first round, though if Watson turns out to be anything close to a franchise quarterback, the price of moving up will be more than worth it. The floor of this draft class is pretty good, but the ceiling is astronomically high. With the Texans being so close to becoming perennial contenders, gambling on a high ceiling draft class to get them over the hump is probably the right move.

Houston is unmistakably in "win now" mode, so the only thing left to do is go out on the field and ACTUALLY win right now.

bigfatdrunk:

For all intensive porpoises: what Brett said.

Clearly, this draft, and even much of 2018's, hinges on Deshaun Watson's ability to succeed. Like Brett, Watson was not my favorite QB in the draft, and I also don't think Watson is a good fit for Bill O'Brien's alleged offensive scheme (whatever the hell it is). For me, the second biggest question is if BOB will use Watson in a way to maximize Watson's ability to succeed, or if he'll take the Lamar Miller route with Watson's development.

The biggest question, however, is Watson himself. A lot of people are comparing Watson to Alex Smith, but I don't really buy this comp. Smith is very careful with the ball, doesn't force throws often, and rarely makes mistakes.

Right now, I think Watson is more like Ryan Fitzpatrick. The good news is that Watson has substantial time and ability to develop. The bad news, of course, is that he doesn't have #HoboQB's beard.

Your Houston Texans haven't taken a QB this high since a third rounder was spend on Dave Ragone in 2003. It was high time to make the investment. Let's hope Watson—and I really love his intangibles—is our long term answer at QB.

kdentify:

As a team, Houston has a lot of holes. Presumably we've addressed some of those holes with these picks (should they pan out, of course).

The biggest issue the Texans have had during Bill O’Brien’s tenure has occurred in the quarterback room. Watson may be the quarterback of the future. I'm cautiously optimistic that Watson can master this offense and start next season (2018), since Rick Smith and O’Brien have already indicated Tom Savage is the starter for 2017. Part of me expected a QB to be drafted, since the whole mantra throughout this regime has been to build up the rest of the team and then finally find a QB, but time was getting short (hopefully) for both Smith and O’Brien to keep pushing off until next year solving the quarterback conundrum. For our sake, let's hope Watson works wonders and they continue to improve.

Houston might have drafted the ability to eventually cut ties with Brian Cushing between Benardrick McKinney and Zach Cunningham. I like Cush, but Father Time and knee injuries are opponents players never defeat, so it's nice to have possibly drafted the guy that will make losing Cush less painful.

A lot of my friends like the Cowboys, and they seem stoked about our draft to the point of claiming that we're now their second favorite team. Hmmm. Not sure whether I trust their judgment.

BattleRedCoat:

I love the Watson pick. I think he'll be a good quarterback. I'm also just happy, again, with the statement of intent by Rick and O’Brien made by trading up to get him. O’Brien clearly was very happy to get him. I've never seen him as happy and relaxed as he was in the press conference the other day. How Watson fits the O’Brien mold, I don't know, but maybe we'll see a change of offense this year.

With regards to the other picks, we had a clear direction: high character guys with good length and physicality.

Zach Cunningham has massive arms; he is pretty agile and explosive. He'll give us three great guys to rotate at inside linebacker, depending on week to week needs against different teams. Maybe they can also go with three inside linebackers instead of bringing a safety up into the box. Who knows? I know Mike Vrabel and Romeo Crennel will get the best out of them.

D'Onta Foreman gives us a different option on first and second down as a legit between the tackles guy. He's also a big big boy that runs pretty fast. I think this waves goodbye to Alfred Blue; he and Foreman are similar in size, but Foreman has breakaway speed that Blue lacks. If Foreman can develop when it comes to pass protection, he could be a three down back. Until then, he'll just be in on first and second. For that reason, I think Blue sticks around one more year to pass protect if needed, because I don't trust Akeem Hunt or Tyler Ervin to do that.

Davenport has massive arms and elite physical traits. He's a raw tackle and shouldn't play this year, but hopefully he'll develop into a useful one. This isn't a pick for this year, which is concerning for the right tackle position moving forward, unless the Texans are happy with Kendall Lamm or Chris Clark starting this year.

Watkins doesn't fix the huge (literally) hole left by Vince Wilfork, but he does fill a need for depth on the D-Line. He could play DE in some cases, or be a DT when Houston goes with bigger four man fronts. Once again, he has some great physical traits—big arms and quickness. Add some better technique to his physicality, and you've got a good player.

After this, the picks become a bit more headscratching, but they stay with the direction of length and physicality. It's clear the Texans made length a priority this year for one reason or another, which is fine by me. If we can coach some of these later guys up with better technique, coupled with their good physical traits, they will develop into good prospects. Until then, we can only hope.

Tim:

As much as I wish your Houston Texans were able to acquire Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers in exchange for a Tejas Combo at Ninfa's, it ain't happening. NFL teams without legitimate starting quarterbacks have to empty the chamber in an effort to locate said legitimate starting quarterback. For the second year in a row, the Texans did just that. We can bicker over their analysis, how or why they put themselves in that position, and undoubtedly over the results, but we can't complain about the Texans failing to make the position a priority anymore.

I was never a believer in Patrick Mahomes, so I actually cheered when the Chiefs traded up to acquire him. I would have been fine with DeShone Kizer or Deshaun Watson at No. 25. When the Texans traded up to No. 12, I figured it was for Watson, though the thought did cross my mind that it could have been a move to ensure Bruce Arians and the Cardinals didn’t get a shot at adding Kizer.

My initial reaction to the trade for and addition of Deshaun Watson was guarded optimism mixed with some reservation. Thanks to the Brock Osweiler trade, the Texans are now without a first and second round pick in 2018. That's less than ideal. But you know what? Deshaun Watson was the Texans' guy. They did what they had to do to ensure they got him. If Watson turns out to be an average or, heaven forbid, above-average starting QB in the NFL, he's well worth two first round picks. If he's a true franchise quarterback, he's worth considerably more than that. He's potentially a ten-plus year solution to a problem that's openly plagued the Texans since 2013.

I don't know if Deshaun Watson will succeed in the NFL. The questions about his arm and penchant for throwing interceptions are fair and will be answered in due time. I am, however, confident that Watson won't be outworked, and he'll put in the time to prepare. Whatever you think of him, Deshaun Watson has been a champion on every level of football he's played. I'm content with betting on him to continue that pattern, especially when the alternatives are Tom Savage, Brandon Weeden, or someone else.

In terms of the rest of the Texans' draft class, I loved the Zach Cunningham and D'Onta Foreman selections; I think the Texans effectively found their successors to Brian Cushing (in 2018) and Alfred Blue (immediately), and they accomplished it at great value. I would have loved to see Houston draft a tackle before the fourth round, but I think they got beaten to the punch in that regard; they didn't really have any ammo to move up and the value for OTs just wasn't there at their picks. Julien Davenport may prove to be a savvy selection, but I doubt we see it before 2018 at the earliest and perhaps 2019. I'm excited about Carlos Watkins; I have high hopes he can contribute in a situational role like D.J. Reader did as a rookie. Treston Decoud seems like a special teams guy unlikely to see snaps in the secondary, and Kyle Fuller strikes me as a developmental practice squad lineman; that's not to say either can't help this team, but I'd be surprised if it happened on the active roster in 2017.

How you feel about this draft likely comes down to how you feel about Deshaun Watson transitioning to the pro game. If you believe he can do it, you should feel very good about what the Texans did this past weekend. If you don't think Watson can make the jump, you're bummed out. We'll find out soon enough what the truth is.

Capt Ron:

I'm incredibly pleased that Houston took a shot high in the draft for a QB if it is truly the player they wanted. We have had more than enough of dumpster diving with rotational backup quarterbacks who far too often ripped defeat from the jaws of victory. If they believe in Watson, I'm good with doing what they needed to get him. If he ends up being the franchise signal-caller, Houston has him on the cheap for the next five years, which gives the team the cap space to retain top talents like Jadeveon Clowney.

Cunningham was a complete steal that late in the second round. Now the defense has someone to cover tight ends and running backs, as well as to provide run support or rotate with the pass rushers on the edge. Foreman was also a big steal for Houston. They got a running back to fit the power run game. These two picks alone make this draft a success for Houston. If Watson becomes the answer at quarterback, this could be the best draft in franchise history.

I came away disappointed the team didn't grab some of the defensive back talent early on, because some of those guys are going to be All Pro players with long dominating careers in the NFL. This better be an indication that they have more faith in the current group of safeties and corners (with the loss of A.J. Bouye) than past evidence might support. Notwithstanding injuries that tap into depth, I think DeCoud will be a special teams player for a year or two before he sees the field as a defender. Butler and Vrabel have developed other diamonds out of the rough, so there's always hope.

The offensive line options in this draft were sub-optimal at best, even setting a record for how few were taken in the first three rounds, so I think Houston did the best they could in that area. It's too bad they didn't get a free agent signed who might have helped upgrade the right tackle situation.

In all, I feel pretty good about this draft. The top three picks alone should make it one of the best ever for Houston. I'm very anxious to see what happens after May 9th when the Texans can sign free agents without affecting the formula for compensatory picks next year. It wouldn't surprise me to see some horse trading as well, like sending Jaelen Strong and/or Alfred Blue somewhere for a veteran OT, corner, or safety.

Mike Bullock:

While I'm not drinking the NFL Network's "Deshaun Watson is the next Steve Young" Kool-Aid, I am very happy with the pick. Additionally, I'm pretty stoked that Rick Smith took us from "Oh Kitten! We're stuck with Brock Osweiler for at least another year!" to having Watson and Savage going into training camp.

I'm also really high on Foreman and Cunningham. Those two should immediately upgrade their position groups from good to great for years to come.

After that, I'm not quite sure what was going on. It seemed like better offensive linemen and defensive backs were picked after Houston grabbed Davenport and Decoud. Almost seemed like the Texans were so hungover from the excitement of the Watson pick they just started pulling names out of the hat to draft to get it over with.

In the end, it all comes down to D-Wat. If he becomes even a Matt Schaub (pre-"let's give the ball away early and often") level QB, this draft might be the best in Houston Texans’ history. If Watson becomes the next Andrew Walter, this draft—and maybe 2018 due to the picks given up for this one—will be remembered as a total failure.

But Deshaun is a winner.

Rick Smith never whiffs on a first rounder.

And I can't stop smiling because Watson is coming to H-Town!

#GoTexans!

Texans Takeaway:

I'm still not sure how to feel about the Watson pick. He wasn't my favorite quarterback heading into the draft and I have serious concerns about his ability to translate his "winner" status to the next level. That being said, Houston obviously needed a quarterback and I think they did the best that they could with the given options. I'm a little upset about what we paid to trade up and grab Watson, but if he pans out as a solid starter, those qualms will obviously fade. If not, we threw away two firsts for nothing, so that's cool.

The second round is where I really got confused. No hate to Zach Cunningham; he seems like a solid option to step in for Cush down the road. But with all of that talent at defensive back on the table, I can't believe that this is the choice Houston made. I think that passing on some of these safeties and corners (cough, Awuzie, cough) will be something Houston regrets for a while. I know Kevin Johnson is coming back, but that doesn't fix the other three spots in the secondary following Bouye and Demps' exits.

I love the Foreman pick. I thought he was a second round talent and am excited to have the one-two punch between him and Miller. Plus, he's a Longhorn, so Hook 'Em.

I'm mildly horrified we didn't do anything about the serious offensive line issues Houston had last season. Again, I know that we have Nick Martin coming back from injury, but there are so many questions across the line, especially at tackle. If Houston wasn't going to draft an offensive lineman, why didn't they sign one in free agency? Watson won't live up to his full potential without protection. It's like investing in a Ferrari and storing it in a carport.

Luke Beggs:

I dunno.

In a vacuum, trading up is almost never a good idea. There's enough history to prove that (Julio Jones being the exception to the rule in recent memory).

This, however, isn't a vacuum. The selection and decision to trade up was made in the context of the Texans being in quarterback hell for the past three seasons. I would go as far to say many of us might have been biased in our evaluations of this years quarterbacks purely based on the fact that we didn't have any other options on the table after Tony Romo retired. There was nothing else to be done but draft a rookie quarterback to be the future at that position. All Houston can do is pray that the pick will do well just so they wouldn’t exist in a world where Tom Savage or Brandon Weeden is the starting quarterback. It's not a terrible thing to do; it can just skew how we see things.

That all said, this is now our bed. I really, really hope Deshaun Watson is the answer and the above paragraph is proven to be completely high falutin’ horse manure.

Cunningham and Foreman are good prospects. I like them both. If that was me, sitting in Rick Smith’s seat, I wouldn't have picked either of them though. Same goes for Carlos Watkins and Julien Davenport. I have nothing against them as prospects, except for the fact that they weren't the guys I wanted or the guys who I felt would have suited some of the team’s immediate needs.

I also think that this draft has indicated (at least for this season) a shift towards a defense that runs a base 4-3 or 4-2-5 package on defense. I don't think we're going to see Kareem Jackson shifted to safety unless Robert Nelson becomes the new A.J. Bouye. I am pretty stoked about the idea of the Texans’ front seven. J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, Whitney Mercilus and D.J. Reader, all moving around, attacking from different sides, while Benardrick McKinney and Zach Cunningham clean up anything that those four don't destroy in the backfield.

This draft probably gave the Texans two or three starters and maybe one or two more JAGs to fill out the roster. That's probably what I’m going to expect from this class going forward.

Matt Weston:

I was gone. I was driving with my legs crossed, cruise control at 85 while the speed limit was 80. The windows were up. The A/C off. I was sweating. The pink light that had enveloped everything became gold and bronzed. “Restorations LP3 was bouncing into my ears. I marveled at the green in the setting sky and cherished how beautiful it is to be alive, to no longer be that fading blue in the east staring at the pinks, purples, and greens across the Earth, longing for what was, rather than enjoying now and tomorrow. I was gone.

Then my phone began to buzz, thanks to pocket technology.

The Texans traded up to 12.

TThe Texans took Watson

Are you excited Houston got a quarterback?

Is that quarterback Houston took any good?

After quick gas station texts, I was done. It was all gone. Vanished. I was back to seeing the road through the window of my bug-splattered windshield. I was crushing rabbits along that windy desert road. I was under the Milky Way, projecting out to infinity while the stars reverberated above me. I was walking, climbing, writing, and reading. I was sneaking up on bears, reading Mary Oliver, counting the points of the cactus, peering into the Prickly Pear’s corsages, smelling the ocotillo’s bloom, trying to match sounds with birds, sitting in brown border water, and staring out into the South Rim.

Now I’m home. I’m back to the limited, all plugged into the collective conscious. I caught up on everything that happened. Really, only one thing happened. The Texans finally took a quarterback. After four years of needing one, they finally did it. They finally gave up on gas station grocery shopping or trying to get rich quick. They used the draft to bring in actual talent. I can’t believe they actually did it.

I like the pick. I would have been happy with Mitchell Trubisky, Kizer, Watson, or Mahomes (if Mahomes was the last one available). Houston needed to take a quarterback. I don’t love the cost because I wouldn’t have traded up for Watson or any of these quarterbacks, and I especially wouldn’t have punted next year’s draft by giving up a first round pick. All of these quarterbacks have flaws. One isn’t cleaner than the other. They all just different skill sets. In this case, Houston picked high floor, #leadership, anticipation, and poise over incredible touch, elusiveness, and an arm that can make every throw but isn’t consistently accurate. If it was up to me I would have stood pat and taken DeShone Kizer 25th overall. It wasn’t up to me and it and never will be.

In the end, like all things, it doesn’t even matter time will answer these questions. Houston either answered the biggest question of this franchise’s future or lost a generation of cheap talent in an attempt to solve a problem that has dragged them down for the last three seasons. Until then, may we all dream dreams of this.

Rivers McCown:

Some things I want to say about the selection of Deshaun Watson, and sorry for not getting this in sooner:

1) I don't care if the pick goes wrong. I am happy the Texans traded up and made a statement that they are willing to go down swinging rather than sitting here watching an otherwise decent team get handcuffed to horrendous quarterback play. If that ends with everyone being fired, well, it probably would've happened either way.

2) The feeling around not having Watson ranked highly reminds me a lot of the feeling around one of my biggest losses: Cordarrelle Patterson over DeAndre Hopkins. Watson was never going to wow scouts with his body and raw tools like Mahomes did, but I think the NFL overestimates just how many warts they can fix. I would rather have had Kizer and kept next year's first-round pick, but I definitely regard Watson as more of a sure thing. Maybe in the end the Texans have only traded up for Andy Dalton or Matt Stafford-level quarterback play. That level of play would have done a lot for them over the last three years.

3) I have a lot of trust in intangibles for quarterbacks. Not rah rah "I met my teammates to throw extra balls in the offseason" thing, but tape study, leadership, that sort of thing. I think Watson gets it, and I think that's a big difference between him and some other quarterbacks in this draft.

4) I am going to enjoy watching an offense with a prayer in hell to be NFL-caliber on Sundays.

Some things I want to say about the other selections:

1) I like the Zach Cunningham pick. We've needed this brand of linebacker for a long time and a cursory look at last year's tape against New England can show you just how hard it is to stop a good offense when you can't cover a running back with a linebacker.

2) I am more lukewarm on Foreman. Great story, great power back, but the NFL is not hurting for power backs. LeGarrette Blount is unsigned as I am writing this. The Texans needed a change-up for Lamar Miller, if not an outright replacement down the line, but Foreman's fumbling problems concern me and I don't know that he necessarily translates speed and power to what his raw measureables are.

3) I know so much about Julien Davenport that I'm not going to even guess where the extra apostrophe is supposed to go.

4) I like that DeCoud has NFL pedigree (Thomas DeCoud's cousin, I believe) and can cover decently enough to be a down safety if he has to, but I'm going to be very concerned if the Texans head into the season starting Eddie Pleasant or Corey Moore.