During the 2017 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans grabbed one player who stands head and shoulders above the rest: quarterback Deshaun Watson.
In a draft that saw the Houston Texans add seven players, one stood above the rest. Quarterback Deshaun Watson, drafted 12th overall, was the third quarterback taken in the 2017 NFL Draft. But he is the most important one.
Of all the first-round quarterbacks (a surprising three players this year), Watson is the player with the highest immediate expectations. Joining the Texans, Watson is expected to make an impact upon arrival, either pushing Tom Savage to perform better or supplanting him early in the season. The pressure is on Watson to be much better than his peers and much sooner.
Similarly, Patrick Mahomes, drafted 10th overall by the Kansas City Chiefs, is incredibly raw and will be expected to learn behind longtime starter Alex Smith. The Chiefs are perennial contenders and there is little pressure on Mahomes to be the guy early on.
Watson, however, needs to step up during the Texans’ playoff and championship window. The only thing keeping that window open for the last few seasons has been the league’s best defense. A competent quarterback has stood in the way of going deep in the playoffs and actually competing for a championship. In that regard, Watson, more than any other quarterback taken in the 2017 NFL Draft, is going to be the most important player to watch.
And trading up to get him was the smart move. I called the trade up and selection an A+ when it happened and stand by it. Watson is the most pro-ready quarterback in the draft and has the highest floor. He can come in and compete from Day 1 and can immediately make sound decisions that will not hinder the Texans from being competitors. Quite literally, that is all Houston needs the quarterback to do.
Unfortunately, that is easier said than done. There will undoubtedly be growing pains with a rookie quarterback trying to game manage his team to victory. But if Watson can be anything close to Teddy Bridgewater for the Minnesota Vikings, then the Texans will have found a true gem.
While I believe that Watson’s abilities will translate well immediately, it is not unfair to look at the move to land Watson with a critical eye. The Texans gave up next year’s first round pick in order to land the quarterback and that cost is heavy. Watson has to prove he is worth it immediately.
But looking at this selection a day after the draft has ended, it’s clear that the Texans landed a quarterback that is an upgrade at the position. With Watson, winning has become significantly easier than during the Brian Hoyer/Brock Osweiler/T.J. Yates seasons of years past.