Deshaun Watson

Draft Pick Signings: 5/12/17

The Texans announced the signing of Deshaun Watson and five other draft picks today. The former Clemson quarterback will make $13.85MM with an $8.25MM signing bonus, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter). The Lions also signed first-rounder Jarrad Davis, along with seven other draft choices.

Here are the rest of Friday’s draft signings.

  • The Broncos and second-round defensive end Demarcus Walker arrived at an agreement, Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post reports (on Twitter). It’s a four-year worth upwards of $5.1MM for the Florida State defensive end, per Jhabvala, who adds he will receive a $1.8MM signing bonus. Walker is expected to compete with Jared Crick and Zach Kerr for the Broncos’ right defensive end position opposite Derek Wolfe. Walker is the second defensive end Denver’s drafted in the past two years, following Adam Gotsis, who did not play much last season.
  • Both of the Jaguars‘ seventh-round selections are now signed. The Jags inked cornerback Jalen Myrick and fullback Marquez Williams. A Minnesota product, Myrick is a notable seventh-round choice because the ex-Golden Gopher defender blazed to the fastest 40-yard dash (4.28 seconds) a Big Ten player has clocked since the Combine began measuring these times. Williams spent three seasons at Division II Mars Hill (North Carolina) before transferring to Miami for his senior season. The Jags still have five unsigned picks.
  • Four late-round draft picks agreed to terms with the Titans, the team announced. Sixth-round guard/center Corey Levin is signed. So are seventh-rounders Josh Carraway, a linebacker, Brad Seaton, a tackle, and running back Khalfani Muhammad.
  • The 49ers signed third-round pick Ahkello Witherspoon, a cornerback out of Colorado, the team announced. Witherspoon was the second Buffaloes corner to come off the board in last month’s draft, following Cowboys second-rounder Chidobe Awuzie. Witherspoon led Division I in pass deflections last season with 22, a number that tied an 18-year-old Colorado school record.

Zach Links contributed to this report.

Texans Sign Deshaun Watson

The Texans have signed the bulk of their 2017 draft class. Only third round running back D’Onta Foreman remains unsigned. Here’s the full list of every Houston draft pick who is now under contract: "<strong

The Texans were said to be targeting Watson for several weeks and we learned on draft night that it wasn’t just a smokescreen. Houston traded this year’s No. 25 overall pick and its 2018 first round choice to get the No. 12 selection from the Browns in order to take the Clemson QB. Watson was universally regarded as one of the top QBs in this year’s class and some might argue that the athletic signal caller has more upside than any of his peers. Now, the rookie might have a chance at wrestling the starting job away from Tom Savage.

Cunningham was projected by some as a first round pick and he almost went No. 23 overall when the Giants were on the clock. Luckily for Houston, the Giants wound up taking Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram at No. 23 and passed on him again at No. 55, allowing them to grab the Vanderbilt product all the way down at No. 57.

Photo via Pro Football Rumors on Instagram.

Extra Points: Trubisky, Dolphins, 49ers, Bucs

The Bears played it close to the vest before making their Mitch Trubisky trade from No. 3 to No. 2, one that headlined the draft and one that may have the team’s power structure at odds. Chicago’s brass tried to throw teams off the scent early in the process by sending an armada of personnel to Deshaun Watson‘s pro day while orchestrating a secret dinner meeting with Trubisky, per Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com. The Bears also “begged” Trubisky’s camp not to leak news of that summit, and that part of the operation succeeded. Ryan Pace followed Dave Caldwell‘s secretive playbook when he made the Blake Bortles pick few expected.

Here’s more from around the league as rookie minicamp sessions are upon us.

  • Charles Harris experienced a similar type of draft misdirection. The Dolphins cancelled a pre-draft visit with the Missouri product without providing a reason for the change of plans. “I was like, ‘Man, that’s messed up,” Harris said, via James Walker of ESPN.com. Miami was linked to edge defenders coming into the draft despite re-signing Cameron Wake and Andre Branch, and Harris fell to the Fins at No. 22 to validate their pre-draft plot. The Dolphins met with Harris at the Combine but didn’t prompt him for a post-Combine workout before the cancellation tactic. “It’s just there are some players that we purposely try and stay away from once we are comfortable with the player, his character and what type of kid we are getting,” Dolphins GM Chris Grier said, via Walker. “We just do not feel the need to spend any more time with them.”
  • John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan were split on one of the 49ers’ eventual draft picks, and the coach won out. Lynch had Utah running back Joe Williams off his draft board, but Shanahan convinced the new GM to give the go-ahead for a fourth-round selection, Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Shanahan, who was tied to the 49ers midway through the GM hunt and thus received an opportunity for additional control, helped sway Lynch to trade a fifth-round pick to move up in the fourth round and select Williams. The Utes runner’s questionable off-the-field past had Lynch skeptical, but Shanahan saw some promise in the back who ran the Combine’s second-fastest 40 time at 4.41 seconds. With Carlos Hyde entering a contract year, Williams could be a key component of the 49ers’ future.
  • Both Kendell Beckwith and Buccaneers management expect the linebacker to be ready to return by training camp, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Beckwith tore his ACL late during his senior season at LSU last fall. Stroud expects Beckwith to be a possible early-season starter on the strong side, with the writer believing primary 2016 starter Daryl SmithPFR’s No. 4 UFA off-ball linebacker — is closing in on retirement rather than returning for a 14th NFL season.
  • Bucs running back Jeremy McNichols underwent surgery shortly after the Combine to repair a torn labrum, per Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. Laine reports McNichols’ timeline hovers at around four months, noting the Boise State-developed back hopes to be ready for camp. McNichols arrived via fifth-round pick for a Bucs team that has questions about Doug Martin‘s future. The team still employs Jacquizz Rodgers, Charles Sims and Peyton Barber on the roster. McNichols caught 103 passes at Boise State in three seasons, but Jason Licht views him as a possible three-down back as opposed to a passing-game specialist.

AFC Notes: Watson, Kizer, Jets, Broncos

After the Texans traded up in the first round of the draft to select ex-Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson 12th overall, head coach Bill O’Brien declared that veteran signal-caller Tom Savage would start Week 1. Like O’Brien, general manager Rick Smith regards Savage as the favorite to land the job, but the executive isn’t as ready to hand him the role. In an interview with ESPN Radio’s Stephen A. Smith on Thursday, Rick Smith indicated that Watson will have a chance to compete with Savage in the coming months, per Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com. “We want to provide a competitive environment across the board. So [Watson will] compete,” Smith said. “[But] like I said, we feel good about Tom and his abilities to manage the offense. But yeah, [Watson] will come in, and just like every other guy on the roster, he’ll have time to play.”

More from the AFC:

  • As is the case with Houston, the Browns are prepared to let their rookie signal-caller compete for a starting job. In Cleveland’s case, it’s second-rounder DeShone Kizer, who will be part of “an open competition” that could also feature Brock Osweiler, Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan, GM Sashi Brown said Thursday on ESPN’s Mike and Mike (via Nate Ulrich of Ohio.com). Meanwhile, speaking with Cleveland Browns Daily, head coach Hue Jackson lavished praise on Kizer, a former Notre Dame star who went 52nd in the draft. “He has the characteristics that we as an organization covet. He’s a big man,” Jackson said of the 6-foot-4, 233-pounder. “He has the AFC North stature that I love. He has a big arm. He’s very intelligent. He’s played in a real big-time football program. He understands the demands of playing the position. He understands the demands of being a quarterback and the face of the franchise.”
  • Free agent quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson will attend the Jets‘ rookie minicamp on a tryout basis, reports Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. Bethel-Thompson, 28, is certainly familiar with the workout circuit, as he’s spent time with five NFL clubs and one team each in the Canadian Football League, Arena Football League, and United Football League. He also took part in the Spring League earlier this year. Bethel-Thompson’s last NFL stint came with the Eagles, with whom he earned two stints in 2016. For Gang Green, Bethel-Thompson likely only represents an offeason option, as the club already boasts signal-callers Josh McCown, Bryce Petty, and Christian Hackenberg.
  • The Broncos on Friday announced a restructuring of their front office under executive vice president of football operations/general manager John Elway. Director of pro personnel Tom Heckert has been promoted to senior personnel advisor, while A.J. Durso has been promoted to take Heckert’s previous post. Brian Stark, meanwhile, has been promoted from national scout to director of college scouting. Denver’s staff changes will help account for the loss of former scouting director Adam Peters, who left for a personnel role with the 49ers in January.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Extra Points: Hawks, Mahomes, Cowboys, Foster, Texans, Savage, Conley

Even though the Seahawks have one of the top starting quarterbacks in the NFL in Russell Wilson, they would have strongly considered drafting Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes if he were still on the board for their first-round pick, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Mahomes, who went 10th to Kansas City, was long gone by the time Seattle was on the clock at No. 26. The Seahawks ultimately traded out of the opening round.

More from Seattle and a few other NFL cities as Day 2 of the draft approaches:

  • Speaking of the Seahawks, the Cowboys had an opportunity to swap picks with them in the first round, per Dallas executive Stephen Jones (Twitter link via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News). The Cowboys instead chose to stay at No. 28 because they liked the players remaining on the board, and ended up choosing Michigan defensive end Taco Charlton.
  • When the 49ers called Reuben Foster to inform him they were selecting him 31st overall, he was on the phone with the Saints at the time. New Orleans, which picked 32nd, was already welcoming Foster to the organization. But once Foster got word that he was going to San Francisco, he hung up on the Saints (Twitter links via Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee).
  • The Texans sent a significant haul to Cleveland to move from No. 25 to No. 12 and select Clemson QB Deshaun Watson, but it appears he’ll begin his pro career as a backup. Head coach Bill O’Brien told reporters, including Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, that Tom Savage will be the Texans’ starting signal-caller next season (Twitter link).
  • The Raiders were not the team to request a polygraph test from Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley. Instead, it was the Ravens who ordered the test, as Peter King of The MMQB writes. Once the results came in, Conley’s camp forwarded them to teams around the league, but the Raiders would not say whether the results impacted their evaluation of what happened. Conley will meet with Cleveland police on Monday and he’s “very confident that it will be resolved” (Twitter link via Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Journal Review). First, however, the 24th overall pick is headed to the Raiders’ facility on Friday to meet with team brass.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Texans Acquire No. 12, Take Deshaun Watson

The Texans have acquired the No. 12 overall pick from the Browns. The Browns will receive the Texans’ No. 25 overall pick plus their 2018 first round pick. With the pick, the Texans have selected Clemson’s Deshaun Watson.Deshaun Watson Texans (vertical)

The Texans, of course, have been on the lookout for a quarterback and Watson could be the player to supplant Tom Savage as the starter in 2017. Watson has been criticized for having less accuracy than other QB prospects in this year’s class, but he has two years of solid football under his belt and he is the most athletic of the bunch.

The Browns now own both the Texans’ first and second round picks in next year’s draft. The Browns previously acquired Houston’s second round pick in the Brock Osweiler trade.

Jaguars Considering Deshaun Watson At No. 4?

There is growing chatter about the Jaguars selecting Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson at No. 4, Jason Cole of Bleacher Report tweets. Watson has not really been linked to the Jaguars during the draft process, so this news some as a bit of a shock. Deshaun Watson

[RELATED: Browns To Take Mitch Trubisky No. 1?]

The Jaguars, of course, already have a former top five pick at quarterback in Blake Bortles. However, Bortles struggled mightily in 2016 and it’s not even clear whether Jacksonville will exercise his fifth-year option for 2018. The option, guaranteed for injury only, would give the QB an $18MM salary in that additional season.

So far, the athletic Watson has been widely projected as a late first round type. He might have the most upside of any quarterback in this year’s class, but concerns about his accuracy have him pegged below UNC quarterback Mitch Trubisky on most draft boards. If the Jaguars follow through and take Watson at No. 4, the Texans at No. 25 are one team that could be severely disappointed, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. In Tuesday’s dueling live mock draft on PFR, I had Houston selecting Watson with their No. 25 overall pick.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Albert Breer On Foster, Trubisky, Watson

Here’s the latest NFL Draft buzz from Albert Breer of The MMQB. All links go to Twitter:

  • Teams were aware of some drug history for linebacker Reuben Foster at Alabama and that wasn’t considered a big deal until his watered down combine test (link). Now, however, that history has taken on a different context. Depending on who you ask, Foster could be in for a draft day slide similar to Myles Jack in 2016.
  • Breer envisions a run on offensive linemen Ryan Ramczyk, Cam Robinson, Forrest Lamp, and Garett Bolles, and that may trigger some teams to trade up into the late teens (link). This year’s draft is thin on OL help and those four players are considered to be the best available.
  • Though it’s not a likelihood, there’s a chance that quarterbacks Mitch Trubisky, Deshaun Watson, and Patrick Mahomes go in the Top 15 (link).
  • The NFL at large likes Alabama cornerback Marlon Humphrey and USC cornerback Adoree’ Jackson more than the public realizes (link). To date, most prognostications have them going late in the first round or early in the second. In yesterday’s dueling mock draft, I took Humphrey at No. 13 overall on behalf of the Cardinals.

Miller’s Latest: Cards, Mahomes, Bills, Bucs

The Cardinals are expected to select a quarterback in the first round, according to Matt Miller of Bleacher Report. Sitting at No. 13, Arizona can look to secure a long-term replacement for incumbent Carson Palmer, who is entering his age-37 campaign. While the Cards have been linked to Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, Miller cites “buzz” that the club actually prefers Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes, who would seemingly be a fit for Bruce Arians‘ vertical offense. In Round 2, meanwhile, Arizona is likely to target edge rushers, per Miller.

Let’s take a look at the highlight’s from Miller’s latest scouting notebook, which — as always — is worth a full read:

  • The Bills aren’t bluffing about their interest in this year’s class of quarterbacks, but Buffalo probably won’t trade up for UNC’s Mitch Trubisky, says Miller. However, the Bills could consider Watson if they stay put at No. 10.
  • While the Buccaneers may seem like a fit for Florida State running back Dalvin Cook, he’s unlikely to come off the board in Round 1 thanks to off-field issues, per Miller. Instead, Tampa Bay has been “all over” defensive back prospects, and Colorado’s Chidobe Awuzie is a possible selection at No. 19. Additionally, the Bucs are likely to draft a defensive end by the end of Day 3.
  • Although Richard Sherman is now unlikely to be traded, the Seahawks are still thought to be targeting a cornerback on Day 1, reports Miller. In Rounds 2 and 3, Seattle could potentially go after pass-catchers and edge rushers before eyeing quarterbacks late in the draft.
  • The Redskins “love” Temple Haason Reddick and may even think about trading up to acquire him, per Miller. Reddick has steadily risen up draft boards and could conceivably be a top-10 pick. Washington current sits at No. 17.
  • Nearly every source expects the Eagles to select a cornerback in Round 1, according to Miller. Ohio State’s Gareon Conley had been in contention for the No. 14 pick, but that could have changed now that Conley has been accused of rape.
  • The Chargers could surprise and go with Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams at pick No. 7, a source told Miller. Los Angeles already boasts Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams, and Dontrelle Inman at wideout, so the Bolts could also consider Ohio State safety Malik Hooker, per Miller.

McShay’s Latest: Mahomes, Foster, Cook

Three quarterbacks are expected to be selected in the first round: Mitch Trubisky (North Carolina), Deshaun Watson (Clemson), and Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech), according to Todd McShay of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required). Cal’s Davis Webb is also reportedly a contender for a first-round slot, says McShay, though he could fall to the middle of Round 2. Watson, interestingly, has been more lauded by NFL clubs that aren’t in the market for a quarterback, per McShay, as those teams have praised Watson’s leadership ability and other intangibles. Trubisky and Mahomes, meanwhile, are seemingly more attractive to clubs that do need a signal-caller.

Let’s take a look at a few more highlight’s from McShay’s column, which is certainly worth a full read:

  • Mahomes, specifically, has been consistently linked to the Chiefs and Cardinals, says McShay. Both clubs are on the hunt for long-term options under center, as Alex Smith has shown a limited ceiling while Carson Palmer is entering the final stages of his career. The Texans have also been mentioned as a destination for Mahomes, as Houston head coach Bill O’Brien reportedly “loves” the Red Raider quarterback. If Kansas City is hoping to land Mahomes, it may have to trade up, as McShay doesn’t believe Mahomes will be available when the Chiefs pick at No. 27.
  • Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster and Florida State linebacker Dalvin Cook are both dealing with off-field concerns, but Cook could end up falling further down the board than Foster, reports McShay. At least one source tells McShay the Colts at pick No. 15 could be the eventual landing spot for Foster. Indianapolis is attempting a complete remake of its defense, so the club may be willing to overlook Foster’s issues in order to secure a top-notch ‘backer. If the Colts pass, the Redskins (pick No. 17) could also be interested in Foster, per McShay. Meanwhile, Cook will be “strongly considered” by the Buccaneers at No. 19.
  • The Saints could consider Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett, Temple linebacker Haason Reddick, or Ohio State safety Malik Hooker with the 11th overall pick, according to McShay. New Orleans has fielded one of the league’s worst defensive units for several years, so any sort of upgrade on that side of the ball shouldn’t be ruled out. Hooker isn’t expected to come off the board in the top five picks, but should be drafted between No. 6 and No. 13, per McShay. Reddick, meanwhile, is expected to be a top-15 selection and could even sneak into the top 10.
  • Houston pass rusher Tyus Bowser is expected to be a late first-round pick, sources tell McShay. Bowser, who managed 8.5 sacks last season, could conceivably appeal to a number of teams picking in the 20s or 30s. Speculatively, the Lions, Dolphins, Cowboys, Packers, Steelers, Falcons, and Saints could all use an edge defender late on Day 1.