The 2021 NFL Draft is done, the Deshaun Watson legal saga rolls on amidst two weeks of silence, and the Houston Texans are currently staring at a quarterback depth chart consisting of Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Finley, and rookie Davis Mills for the 2021 season. If things break as they're expected to, the Texans SHOULD be moving on from Deshaun Watson next season, and will LIKELY be looking at drafting a quarterback with a very, very high pick in the NFL Draft.
While it will feel awfully nice to actually HAVE a first round pick in the 2022 draft — the Texans have been missing their first round pick in three of the last four drafts because they were used in trades for Deshaun Watson and Laremy Tunsil — enduring the excruciating pain of what promises to be a downtrodden 2021 season will be a tough sacrifice to get what could be the No. 1 overall pick.
So for the first time in a long time, we can actually begin to plan for next year's draft, and more importantly, the execution of those two vital transactional elements — trading Deshaun Watson and drafting a quarterback in the first round (with the caveat that, hey, Davis Mills might work out to be something worth building around!) With that said, here are the three things you need to know as the slow road to 2022 begins:
Here are the college quarterbacks whose names you need to know
Unfortunately, because of Deshaun Watson's legal situation, the Texans were unable to trade for a first round pick in 2021, and thus draft a first round quarterback (or a first rounder at ANY position). They did draft Mills in the third round, so we will see how that works out. If it works out like most third round quarterbacks selected in the last decade (since Russell Wilson was drafted by Seattle in 2012, quarterbacks selected in the third round have a combined record of 30-70 as starters), the Texans will be QB shopping in the 2022 draft. So, if you are so inclined to do some advanced scouting, here are the names you need to know:
Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma
Sam Howell, North Carolina
Malik Willis, Liberty
J.T. Daniels, Georgia
Phil Jurkovec, Boston College
Kedon Slovis, USC
Matt Corral, Ole Miss
Carson Strong, Nevada
Jayden Daniels, Arizona State,
Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati
Dillon Gabriel, UCF
For what it's worth, The Athletic was the first outlet I saw put out a 2022 mock draft, and they have the Texans selecting Rattler with the first overall pick. So, let the games begin!
Here are the teams with multiple first round picks
The other half of the quarterback equation is trading Deshaun Watson. The nice thing about the 2021 draft was that there were several teams in the quarterback market who ALSO had multiple first picks, making them ideal trade suitors for the Texans. Multiple first round picks from a trade partner aren't quite as important in 2022, since the Texans actually have their own first round pick, but still, if Watson is cleansed of his legal and P.R. stains by next spring, more first round picks is better than fewer. Duh. So, with that said, here are the four teams, currently, with multiple 2022 first round picks:
New York Giants
New York Jets
Also, for what it's worth, here are the four teams with no first round picks — Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, and the Los Angeles Rams.
Here are the teams that could be in the market for Deshaun Watson in a trade
So we know who the ideal trade partners for Watson would be from a draft equity standpoint. now, who are the ones that might have a true need at quarterback. I would break these into two categories — teams with young quarterbacks in "make or break" seasons, and teams with veteran quarterbacks who they may be done with (or might retire). Here is the breakdown of possible teams with an acute need at quarterback:
Teams with young QBs in “make or break” years
Teams with vet QBs who they may be done with
So, the bottom line on the Watson trade front, if the team is inclined to wait until after the 2021 season to move him (the smart move, in my opinion), the Giants, Eagles, and Lions are shaping up as the teams to target. I'm guessing the Giants, with their location in the biggest metro area in the free world, would appeal to Watson the most.
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