There were a lot of impactful, significant 1st round picks in Thursday’s 2017 NFL Draft – everything John Lynch did for San Francisco; the Titans adding two pieces to what will be a playoff team; Tampa Bay adding OJ Howard – but the pick that stands out above all is definitely Deshaun Watson going to Houston with the 12th pick.
After the Bears reached for Mitchell Trubisky, and the Chiefs made the boneheaded move to trade up for Patrick Mahomes, the Texans did what the Browns should have done at 12 – grabbed the QB who just led Clemson to the National title.
It’s a huge sign of relief for Watson, because in Cleveland he wouldn’t have had much of a chance; in Houston, he goes into an offense that has almost all the Super Bowl pieces in place.
Solid #2 WR? Check. Will Fuller had a few bad drops as a rookie, but still caught 47 passes for an average of 13.5 ypc. He led the team with 11 20+ yard receptions and in YAC (213). They’ve even got another young WR in Jaelen Strong, who is only 23 years old.
Reliable TE? Check. CJ Fiedorowicz was 2nd on the team in receptions (54) and tied for first in TDs (4).
Top 15 RB? Check. Lamar Miller had another solid year (1,073 yards), but it wasn’t quite his 2014 season in Miami (5.1 ypc, 8 TDs, 1,099 yards).
For starters, pressure. Prescott was going to open as the #3 QB until injuries in the preseason forced him into action. Watson is being drafted as a QB who can compete for the job, and in my opinion, should win it.
Also, the offensive line. The Cowboys had the 2nd best line in the NFL last year according to Pro Football Focus; the Texans were only 18th.
But where the Houston offensive line wasn’t amazing, its defense was. The Texans defense – which was missing JJ Watt for 13 games – finished 3rd in yards per play allowed (5.0), 2nd in passing yards allowed per game, 11th in rush defense, and 11th in scoring defense.
Watson plays in a much weaker division than Prescott – the Titans and Colts are improving, and Jaguars are too – and this year’s schedule is a bit easier than Dak’s in Dallas.
I think DeShaun Watson will be the heavy favorite for Rookie of the Year, and I think the Texans will be back in the playoffs.