The Houston Texans shocked the NFL world on Thursday night by trading up from the 25th pick to 12th overall with the Cleveland Browns in order to select Deshaun Watson in the first round. In doing so, Houston exhausted its first-round pick in next year’s draft.
It goes without saying that general manager Rick Smith and head coach Bill O’Brien view Watson as their quarterback of the future. Making such a trade would also seem to indicate that the team believes Watson is a Day 1 starter.
Not so fast. In talking about their blockbuster trade after the first round, the Texans’ brass firmly committed to Tom Savage as their starting quarterback for next season.
“As a rookie quarterback it’s a big jump,” O’Brien said, via ESPN . “Tom is our starter and Deshaun will come in and he’s going to work hard and we’re going to teach him and feed him a lot of information and he’ll work at it.”
O’Brien is right in that rookie quarterbacks have a major learning curve from college to the NFL. Though, Watson himself was viewed as the most pro-ready signal caller in the draft with three years of high-level college starting experience, including two national championship game appearances.
Houston’s goal here was to find that quarterback of the future while laying the groundwork for contention over the short term. Remember, this is a team that won the AFC South last season despite absolutely horrendous quarterback play.
If Watson can prove himself to be heads and shoulders ahead of Savage, he will likely start out of the gate. A comment to the contrary in late April doesn’t change that.