In a blockbuster pair of trades that involved sending Brock Osweiler to the Browns to clear his cap number from Houston’s books, the Texans have now also spent the fourth overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft to acquire former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Watson, who recently went to back-to-back NCAA Championship games against Alabama (winning one), is a polarizing prospect. Some analysts, like our own Matt Weston, sing his praises, while others, like myself, had him outside the first round in our mock drafts. In order to try to paint a more complete picture of the Texans’ new quarterback for all of you, here is what other members of the media landscape have to say about Watson’s incredibly tough transition to the big, bad NFL.
Brian McDonald (CBS Houston):
Deshaun Watson is Geno Smith 2.0…If you’re able to look at both players with an open mind, I’m sure you’ll see the surprising similarities between the NFL bust, and a prospect quarterback loved by the majority opinion…Watson won all but a few of his games in college, but so did Vince Young and Tim Tebow, and like Young and Tebow, when people describe what Watson does well they most often mention intangibles first, which is a red flag for me. Intangibles matter, but the physical and mental ability has to be there for intangibles to matter or add to that player’s game.
The Houston Texans shouldn’t select Deshaun Watson.
In this draft analyst’s opinion, I would grade Watson as a third-round pick...Watson was off with his accuracy, displaying poor ball placement, especially when going downfield. He missed a lot of potential touchdowns as a result. Watson has a lot of room for improvement with his field vision, ball placement, and accuracy. There were instances where he flashed accuracy, but he had too many missed and poorly placed throws. Watson was better down the stretch [last season], but he still has room for improvement in his accuracy for the NFL.
Matt Miller (Bleacher Report):
When viewing Watson, his total of 30 interceptions in the last two seasons has to be discussed. Too often he struggled to identify zone coverage (see the Pitt, Troy, Florida state, and Ohio State games) that led to poor interceptions or near-misses. Often, Watson throws the ball up and bets on his big receivers to make plays on the ball. His deep-ball accuracy is inconsistent. No quarterback in college football had more skill-position talent around him. Watson also had 13 passes batted down, most of all draft-eligible quarterbacks. If Watson intends to be a runner in the NFL, he’ll need to bulk up to add the power (especially in the lower body) to make plays. Overall, his accuracy is too inconsistent to be considered top-end. He’ll have to speed up his decision-making and improve his spot-accuracy to be a top-tier NFL quarterback.
Lance Zierlein (NFL.com):
Projection: Rounds 1-2
Teams will have to weigh the inconsistent field vision and decision-making against his size, athleticism, leadership and production. While not perfect, teams can add checks to both arm and accuracy boxes for Watson. However, discussions about whether or not his areas of improvement can be corrected will likely determine whether a team will view him as a high-upside prospect or a franchise quarterback. Watson’s transition from Clemson’s offense to a pro-style attack will obviously take time, but his combination of intangibles and athletic ability make him worth a first-round selection
Pro Football Focus:
Watson is as tough of a prospect to evaluate as there is coming out of college. While he shows flashes with his arm, he is wildly inconsistent and lacks the key traits (pocket instincts/poise and field vision). He will need to play in an offense specifically built around him with a quarterback run game and pass-game scheme creativity. There will be games when the coverage structures will be simple and the route concepts will match up with the route combinations, and he will have success. Then there will be games where the defensive movement will give him problems or the pass rush will force him to move within the pocket and get through progressions, and he will struggle mightily. Watson is not a pure progression passer, with his limited pocket feel and vision, and whenever that’s the case, there will be a huge risk involved when hoping to land a franchise quarterback. The former Clemson quarterback’s work ethic and intangibles will make him an attractive option, but there will be some risk involved.
Well…yikes. It seems as though the Texans may have botched this pick, y’all. Considering that Houston gave up multiple first round picks and still left Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer on the board, it’s hard for me to imagine that Watson will end up being worth the investment. Perhaps he will go on to change our minds as a rookie, but it would take an absolutely spectacular performance for Watson to prove all of his doubters wrong.
And by “spectacular,” I mean really spectacular – like averaging three touchdowns a game, leading the NFL’s best offense, and going toe to toe with Tom Freakin’ Brady in Foxborough kind of spectacular. Only then will I believe that this was a good pick.
I think we all realize how unrealistic that kind of production is. Hell, that would put Watson on pace for 48 total touchdowns as a rookie, which would almost double the current NFL record held by Peyton Manning (‘98) and Russell Wilson (‘12). Surely he’s not good enough to reach those kinds of numbers, which means he’s probably not good enough to justify using TWO first rounders to draft him.
Ugh...just...ugh. I want this franchise to make a good first round pick just one time. JUST ONE TIME. If y’all need me, I’ll be over in the corner waiting for this disaster to end.