This time of year has brought upon list upon list ranking the best players, the best players at each position, and the best entire position groups. Most of these lists have ignored Deshaun Watson entirely whenever they discussed quarterbacks. Stuck in the purgatory between sexual assault allegations and a trade request, Watson isn’t expected to play, perhaps at all this season. He has been ignored and forgotten during this run of lists.
Former NFL quarterback Bruce Gradkowski of Pro Football Focus recently ranked the five best quarterbacks, and he didn’t omit Watson. He ranked Watson right below Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and Patrick Mahomes, putting him in the NFL’s elite. Gradkowski had the following to say:
5. Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
Surrounded by the league’s second-least efficient running game and second-least efficient overall defense last season, Watson was arguably the best quarterback in the NFL. Couple that with the Texans trading away his top-five receiver and firing his head coach, and Watson clearly put the team on his back.
The most impressive thing about his 2020 campaign was how rarely he made mistakes in structure and how consistently he created positive plays out of structure. He played well from a clean pocket and under pressure while also taking care of the football. Watson had 42 big-time throws to only 14 turnover-worthy plays after making 27 turnover-worthy plays in 2019.
The talent isn’t a question. Watson is undoubtedly one of the five best quarterbacks in the NFL. Whenever Houston trades Watson, which should be after the 2021 season, regardless of the current legal dilemma, the Texans should receive multiple first round picks and more.