As we travel from the infancy of July to the end of it, when NFL training camps are supposed to open up, ESPN reached out to league executives to rank players at a variety of positions across the NFL. Today they started off with the quarterback position, where they had Deshaun Watson ranked fourth:
4. Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
Age: 24 | Highest ranking: 3 | Lowest ranking: 11
Watson was engaged in a tight race with Drew Brees for much of the voting, but he was consistently in the top six because of his toughness and the dynamic plays he creates.
“That Buffalo playoff game — they won that game because of that guy. Nobody else,” one veteran offensive coach said. “They had at least three free runs on him late and he made huge plays.”
Added an NFC exec: “He’s running for his life and he’s still doing some special stuff.”
That has played out in Watson’s late-game consistency. Watson has 10 game-winning drives since 2018, the most of any NFL quarterback during that span.
One NFC exec says Watson isn’t an easy evaluation because his skill set isn’t overwhelming and he isn’t a true pocket passer, but he just “makes things happen. He’s comfortable doing what he’s been doing all his life.”
Scouts see shades of Wilson, with slightly less in the instincts and lower-body strength departments. He reduced his sacks from 62 to 44 in 2019, and finished sixth in completion percentage (67.3).
“Deshaun needs a little more structure,” one coordinator said. “Not as dynamic as Russell or Kyler [Murray] with getting it done. He plays too much streetball and they let him. I don’t see him coached.”
The input by anonymous executives describe Watson as ‘needing a little more structure’, ‘not being coached’, ‘just making things happen’, ‘running for his life and still doing some special stuff’, and winning a playoff game against Buffalo ‘because of that guy and nobody else’. Hopefully Bill O’Brien’s super-genius offensive plan finally comes together this year with that heavily invested offensive line in place and the additional speed injected into the skill position group.
If you want to see where every other QB in the NFL ranks, you can read the rest of the article here.