Next week, for all practical purposes, is the start of the 2017 NFL year.
Technically, the NFL's league year doesn't start until March 9, but with the beginning of the NFL Combine in Indianapolis next Tuesday, the speculation and talk begins to ramp up on who teams will possibly draft or begin to look at more closely.
The talk of the combine, particularly in the Browns case, will be on the quarterbacks. Per usual, the Browns are still looking for "the guy" and they have the first pick and the 12th pick in the upcoming draft. Deshaun Watson, Mitch Trubisky from Mentor and DeShone Kizer are all talked about as the best quarterbacks in this draft. Their projections by draft experts are all over the map. All three are expected to be at the combine.
Some say there are none worthy to be drafted in the first round, others think with the NFL being a quarterback-driven league that the aforementioned trio will all be selected in the first round and possibly, in the top 10.
Many times the top-tier quarterbacks show up at the combine, but do not take part in many of the drills the scouts run them through, rather wait until they get to their Pro Day at their college with familiar settings, familiar receivers and a rehearsed workout regimen.
Watson was recently asked by the Associated Press if he plans on taking part in the drills at the combine.
“That’s the plan,” Watson said Monday. “Run, throw, meetings, everything.”
Watson (6-3, 215) led Clemson to the national title with a 35-31 win over Alabama in early January and was honored with his second-straight Davey O'Brien Award as the nation's top quarterback.
Watson threw for 4,593 yards and 41 touchdowns last season. He also had 629 yards and nine touchdowns rushing during the championship season. In his three years at Clemson, Watson threw for 10,168 yards and 90 touchdowns.
Despite his gaudy numbers, Watson's stock has seemingly dropped due to the number of interceptions he threw last season. Despite throwing 41 touchdowns, he threw 17 interceptions. NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah broke down the interceptions and determined 11 were "forced ball/poor reads", four were "tipped balls", one was "poorly thrown" and one was "miscommunication".
Watson isn't sure where he'll be drafted. Most early projections have him going in the first round or at the top of the second.
“I’m hearing that," Watson said. "First round, anywhere in that range, top 10, top five, just depends on what the teams say.
“It’s something I can’t control," he said. "I just make sure I can control what I can control. Stay positive,” he said. “The height is the height. This is how God made me. My hands are this size. I can’t really control that. I can put on weight and be able to go out there and throw and run and talk in the interviews and my knowledge.”
Watson passed up an opportunity to work with Hue Jackson and the Browns coaching staff at the Senior Bowl, but he's going to get an opportunity at the combine and at his Pro Day to convince the Browns to take him with one of their picks. The same can be said for Trubisky and Kizer and the other quarterbacks that will be in this year's draft.
The Browns have been linked with Jimmy Garappolo and Tyrod Taylor, but both of those players, as of now, are out of their control as the Patriots might choose to not trade Garappolo and the Bills might pick up Taylor's option.
If the Browns decide to pass up on drafting a quarterback at number one, there are three or four teams that draft behind the Browns who might be looking for a quarterback and could take one the Browns like before they pick again at 12.
The process starts to unfold next week in Indianapolis. Stay tuned!