The Houston Texans entered the 2017 NFL Draft with the 25th overall pick, so if they wanted to grab an elite quarterback prospect, it was going to require some maneuvering.
Well, maneuver they did. The Texans traded up to 12 and drafted national champion and two-time Heisman finalist Deshaun Watson. For a franchise that in recent years has started Brock Osweiler, Ryan Mallett and T.J. Yates, among others, this was like drafting Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Paul McCartney all rolled into one.
“(Fans are) extremely excited,” Houston radio host Lance Zierlein said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “Anytime you get a high-profile quarterback, I think a fan base is going to be excited. It’s not going to be until next year until the reality of not having a first- or second-rounder will kind of set in a little bit. But generally speaking, I’d say the fans were extremely excited about having Deshaun Watson. This is the national-championship winner, and he had back-to-back strong games against Alabama in national-championship games. Really, I think it was reminiscent for some football fans – I know it was for me – the year they had the opportunity in 2006 to get Vince Young and they did not get Vince Young, who was just coming off a big national-championship win.”
The Texans drafted Mario Williams No. 1 overall that year, with Reggie Bush going to New Orleans at No. 2 and Young going to Tennessee at No. 3.
“This time around, they do get the national championship quarterback, a dynamic playmaker and a guy who’s been doing it for three years at a pretty high level in Deshaun Watson,” Zierlein said. “Obviously Houston is quarterback-starved and Deshaun Watson is a very exciting prospect to cheer for. The question is when exactly will he be a factor? It would behoove the Texans to go slowly with him and allow him to really get set at his own pace and learn the game.”
Watson was the third quarterback off the board – Mitchell Trubisky went No. 2 to Chicago and Patrick Mahomes went No. 10 to Kansas City – but he may be the safest pick in this year’s under-center crop.
“They got a guy who I believe may not have the same ceiling as Patrick Mahomes – or even Mitchell Trubisky, to be honest with you – but I think his floor is a little bit higher,” Zierlein said. “I think he’s less likely to be a big bust. I think worst-case scenario, you have an average starter on your hands with Deshaun Watson. Best-case scenario, you could have a good starter. I think the other guys have a chance to be better than Deshaun Watson, but I think of the first-round quarterbacks, the guy who is least likely to be a bust is Deshaun Watson.”