Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith has been making the rounds since the end of the NFL Draft, discussing the team's draft selection of quarterback Deshaun Watson. Smith has been upfront on what he liked about Watson and so has Bill O’Brien, especially in regard to Watson’s recall of information and how he handles himself as a leader.
Smith took to the Stephen A. Smith show last week to discuss what the Texans saw in Watson and why they were committed to trading up for him. The Texans GM laid out what led the Texans to Watson and the traits that convinced the team in get into position to pull the trigger.
“When you look at the prerequisites and the things we look for in the quarterback position, I think a lot of it, outside of the physical skills set, the leadership and the presence, the ability to rally men, and the ability to take people to another level in their play,” Smith said of Watson. “One of the things that I learned very quickly about Dehsaun is the way he impacts other folks. How other people believe in him.”
The story is well known with Watson at Clemson and how he led the team back to the National Championship in his final season after falling short in 2016 against Alabama. Watson was a 32-3 as a starter for the Tigers and at Gainesville High School, he lead the Red Elephants to a 46-9 record during his high school career. Watson has both a College Football Playoff National Championship and a Georgia High School Football State Championship in his trophy case.
That pedigree impressed Smith, beginning with Watson winning the starting quarterback spot as a freshman in both high school and at Clemson.
“You watch the games that he’s won at every level that he has played at, a lot of that has to do with the type of man that he is," Smith explained of Watson. “That was one of the things that really stood out to us as we continued the evaluation process and drilled down to what made this guy tick and why he was successful where he has been and a lot of it was about the man he is.”
The entire picture on Watson was put together through several elements including an interview from the NFL Combine, watching the Clemson pro-day, an in depth pre draft visit, and Smith personally witnessing the National Championship game - all of which answered the questions regarding Watson’s abilities on the field.
“It is a combination of a lot of different evaluative opportunities," Smith said of building a deeper look into Watson. “One of the reasons why I go to football games is because of the live exposure opportunities is something you pick up how he interacts with his teammates, you pick up with how he interacts with a coach, or how he responds to a tough situation or a turnover or whatever is going on in the football game. You can watch those types of things.”
The big selling point for the Texans is when Watson arrived to NRG Stadium as the team arrived for Phase I of organized team activities. Watson was brought in for his pre-draft visit and his interaction with the team was what the organization really wanted to see. Watson's ability to connect with his future teammates helped the Texans realize that he was a good fit for the locker room and for what the Texans are trying to accomplish.
“When he was in our building, even on the visit - he was one of our 30 visits - you just watch even our players sit and talk with him in the cafeteria and just how people react to him," Smith said of Watson’s visit. “All those different times you watch and look and obviously you see what he does, the biggest evaluation is what he does on the football field and that can’t be denied and his production there and his success there.”
The expectations will continue to rise for Watson with the Texans and rightfully so with the price they paid to move up to land him in the draft. Currently sitting with no picks in the first two rounds of the 2018 draft, the only way that will be forgotten is if the Texans can take the next step with Watson as the quarterback.
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