April 30, 2016
Elementary! Texans Draft a QB
by Bob Hulsey
The Texans' quarterback drama might at last have been put to rest Thursday night when Houston traded up from 25th to 12th in the first round to snag Deshaun Watson from the National Champion Clemson Tigers to be their next franchise quarterback. GM Rick Smith desperately traded last year's quarterback, Brock Osweiler, last March in a salary dump to Cleveland along with a sixth-rounder and next year's second rounder, then Smith again traded with the Browns on draft night, sending them their first pick in 2018. As it stands, the Texans have essentially used both trades to mortgage both high draft picks next year for the chance to sign Watson and his 4th-round Clemson teammate DE Carlos Watkins.
That's a steep ticket, but the Texans can emerge assured they have a quarterback who's been a winner at every level, including topping powerful Alabama in last year's college championship game. Likely, holdover Tom Savage will get the starts early in the season until the coaches decide Watson is ready.
On Friday during Day Two of the draft, Houston beefed up their linebacking corps with the selection of LB Zach Cunningham, a player projected to go late in the first round, and added Longhorn running back D'Onta Foreman, the first significant University of Texas product to be drafted by the Texans.
Saturday saw the Texans finish up by drafting Watkins, OT prospect Julien Davenport from Bucknell, CB Treston Decoun from Oregon State and Baylor C Kyle Fuller.
Overall, this draft (and possibly the next one, too) will be judged by how well Watson performs. Deshaun is a highly competitive and driven winner who approaches the game with both professionalism and desire. However, the offensive system at Clemson, like many spread programs, is rather simplistic and doesn't rely on reading keys or making audibles. With a Wonderlic score reportedly in the 20s, it is likely the Georgia native can pick up the strategies, but how quickly Watson can adjust to the speed of the pro game and make the right decisions will determine how soon he will begin taking starter's snaps.
Don't overlook Savage, however, who won the confidence of many teammates last year while subbing for Osweiler. Savage's problems have been injuries and his own lack of pro experience. However, everyone knows that when you trade up in the first round to get a quarterback, the other signal-callers on the roster are just placeholders.
At the earliest, Watson could start after the bye week on October 29th, but that's the optimistic side. A more likely scenario could be November 12th at the Rams, December 10th against San Francisco, or December 17th at Jacksonville.
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