The body of work is only six starts, but I think it's safe to say that for NOW, in the moment, Deshaun Watson is viewed in Houston and around the NFL, as one of the future torchbearers at the quarterback position. Now, things can go wrong, whether through injuries or underperformance, but for right now, those six scintillating games last year, in which the Texans averaged well over 30 points on offense, are enough to enthuse the masses.
The crazy thing about Watson, something that will repeatedly befuddle us all for years to come if he winds up being "The Man," is that he lasted until the twelfth pick overall in the 2017 draft. The Cleveland Browns, the most quarterback-starved franchise maybe in NFL history, passed on Deshaun not once, but twice. Hell, THEY traded the pick to the Texans that was used to take Watson.
So as the 2018 season is rapidly approaching, let's look now, one year after that draft, and see what the regret factor might be for the 11 teams that left Watson on the board. We will rate this on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being "NO RAGRETS" ...
...and 10 being "Holy crap, we signed Brock Osweiler!!" level regret.
1. CLEVELAND BROWNS - Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
12. CLEVELAND BROWNS - Traded back with Texans for 25th pick in 2017 (Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan) and 4th pick in 2018 (Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State)
During Watson's six-game run last year, the Regret Factor had to be at about a 13 on a scale of 1 to 10, as Browns fans were watching DeShone Kizer throw interceptions at about the same rate Watson threw touchdowns. Now, with Baker Mayfield in the fold, the regret is mitigated slightly, but still... you essentially traded Deshaun Watson for Peppers and Ward. I mean, YIKES.
WATSON REGRET FACTOR, BROWNS: 8.4
2. CHICAGO BEARS - Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
The Bears gave up a ton of draft capital to move up up one spot and get their hands on Trubisky. It's still early, but he clearly hasn't taken to the NFL game as fast as Watson. (Who, in the last few years, as a rookie, has?) This past weekend, Bears fans were tweeting this play out quite a bit....
WATSON REGRET FACTOR, BEARS: 6.7
3. SAN FRANCISCO 49ers - Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
The 49ers were able to get Jimmy Garoppolo, another six start phenom like Watson, for the low, low price of a second round pick sent to the Patriots. I think they feel fine about their quarterback situation.
WATSON REGRET FACTOR, 49ers: 1.4
4. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS - Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
Fournette is the fulcrum of the Jags' offense, but that's because their quarterback situation remains positively Bortle-icious. Translation — terrible. Imagine the Jags with Deshaun Watson under center and THAT defense? Of course, not all situations are equal, and it's fair to wonder "Would Watson thrive with Doug Marrone like he does Bill O'Brien?" Probably, I think Watson is coach-proof.
WATSON REGRET FACTOR, JAGUARS: 7.9
5. TENNESSEE TITANS - Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
Davis may turn out to be a terrible pick, but the Titans were not taking a QB here. Still, if I were a Titans fan, and I watched Watson dissect my defense for 50 points last season, I'd feel a little nervous about the next decade or so.
WATSON REGRET FACTOR, TITANS: 6.8
6. NEW YORK JETS - Jamal Adams, S, LSU
Adams is going to be a good player, and the Jets are moving along with Sam Darnold under center. The rookie out of USC has looked good so far in the preseason. But MAN, Deshaun Watson? In New York? Until I see Darnold win games consistently, if I were a Jets fan, this would still irk me a little bit. A lot, actually.
WATSON REGRET FACTOR, JETS: 9.2
7. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS - Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
Philip Rivers isn't getting any younger, and Watson might have been someone who people would actually pay to see on the B-team in Los Angeles. They can't fill a soccer stadium right now, so filling a new football stadium, well, its not gonna look good on TV, let's just leave it at that.
WATSON REGRET FACTOR, CHARGERS: 5.0
8. CAROLINA PANTHERS - Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
The only thing that creeps this Regret Factor toward a 5.0 is geography. Watson is wildly popular in the Carolinas. But they're set at QB with Cam Newton, and McCaffrey looks like the real deal.
WATSON REGRET FACTOR, PANTHERS: 4.6
9. CINCINNATI BENGALS - John Ross, WR, Washington
With Andy Dalton, the Bengals are a classic case of going all-in on a quarterback who can have you straddle the 8-8 fence every season, but can't carry you to much more. To add insult to injury, Ross might be the worst first round pick in this draft. Oh, you Bengals. Good to have you back among the sucky again.
WATSON REGRET FACTOR, BENGALS: 9.6
10. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS - Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
The Chiefs like their guy. It will be interesting to see how Mahomes adapts to being the Day One starter, and adapts to playing in an NFL offense after playing in the Texas Tech scheme in college. One thing we do know... Mahomes can throw it FAR...
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WATSON REGRET FACTOR, CHIEFS: 3.1
11. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS - Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
Drew Brees will step aside when he chooses to, but man, can you imagine Brees passing the torch to Watson? Drafting a Pro Bowler in Lattimore cushions that blow, though. (Also, Brees is still tossing it around at a high level.)
WATSON REGRET FACTOR, SAINTS: 4.1
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.