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Deshaun Watson and The Gamble

We won't know what the Browns will do with the QB position but the National Title Game star creates a certain unique decision for teams.

If you follow me on Twitter, you know I think Deshaun Watson is going to be very good in the NFL. It is the same way I looked at Teddy BridgewaterMarcus Mariota and Jared Goff. Not that they are the same players but that they have what it takes to be stars in the NFL. So far so good with Mariota, probably the same with Teddy before the injury and the jury is still very much out on Goff, but early signs were not good.

For the Cleveland Browns, watching the Houston Texans yesterday could be an example of what it looks like to take a stud defender, Jadeveon Clowney, but have no one to man the most important position in football. However, it is quite possible that the Browns see their future as closer to the Kansas City Chiefs with a great defense and a serviceable QB.

Now we all know the arguments, already months and months away from the NFL Draft, of drafting the best player, likely Myles Garrett, or the best QB, whoever you think that is. That is not the point of this piece, there is and will be enough of those.

Fred Greetham did a great job of breaking down the Browns' QB options here, I just want to focus on one of them in particular. My guy, Deshaun Watson.

Here is what we know about Watson:

Good

  • Leader
  • Comes up big in big games
  • Hard worker
  • Strong enough arm
  • Can make all of the throws
  • Can run the ball effectively
  • Can read defenses
  • Can move in the pocket while looking to throw
  • Accomplished in college

Bad

  • Inconsistent accuracy
  • Not physically imposing
  • Offensive scheme limited what he was asked to do
  • Can drop his eyes and look at the rush
  • Receivers, particularly Mike Williams, made him look better than he is

Obviously everything in those lists can, and will, be parsed out with more detail but for now, that is a fine working list to describe Watson.

There is obviously a lot of good there and a lot of hope that Watson can transition from college star to leader of men, Franchise QB status. On the other hand, there is enough there to understand why many don't see that Franchise QB and certainly wouldn't draft him #1 overall.

What I think is most interesting about Watson, both from my studies and all that we've "heard" publicly and the little that I've heard privately is the gamble with Watson. It goes like this:

"No one would bet against Deshaun Watson being a very good, Franchise caliber NFL QB."

BUT

"Not sure anyone would bet their jobs on Deshaun Watson being a very good, Franchise caliber NFL QB."

That subtle difference is huge. Coaches and front offices will see a player that they believe could be great and would assume he will be but may not see enough that they are willing to bet their careers on. If Watson was 2 inches taller and 25 pounds heavier, maybe that changes. Maybe if he played for a "pro-style offense," maybe that is different. Maybe if he had a bit less tape, was a little more of a mystery that could be developed, it would be easier to bet on him.

Therein lies the struggle of "upside." With Watson, what you see is what you get. He has upside but because he was on the national stage for 2 straight years, because he has shown enough tape to show his warts as well as his talent and because he isn't physically bigger, decision makers may be cautious.

There is a level of ridiculousness to all of it. Watson isn't some huge, unproven piece of athletic talent. He has shown what he can do. Watson isn't some physical freak that needs taught how to play the position. Watson isn't the guy that has a possible ceiling of Cam Newton, with the possible floor of Ryan Leaf mind you.

Watson is a solid to very good QB in the NFL. While that may not impress many, it is enough that few would bet against him. Just because he doesn't need a ton of development, just because his ceiling may be a notch below physically and just because we've seen a ton of film on him means few will bet their jobs on him.

NFL people would rather bet on their own ability to harness a higher ceiling player than a higher floor player to keep getting better.

By the end of the process, especially after the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine, Deshaun Watson might be in the conversation for a Top 5 pick. As it stands right now, no one would bet against Watson but will anyone near the top, including the Browns, bet their jobs on him?

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