While running backs Alvin Kamara and Kareem Hunt lead the chase for Rookie of the Year, some are clamoring for Deshaun Watson to be considered for the award as well. Despite only playing six games, the tremendous stretch that Watson had is leading some to believe he is the best rookie of the 2017 season.
Deshaun Watson has a pedigree of excellence. At Clemson University, Watson led the Tigers to two straight national championships in 2015 and 2016, winning one of them. He was also a Heisman nominee in both those seasons, capping off a three-year tenure in which he’d compiled 10,168 passing yards, 1,934 rushing yards, and 116 total touchdowns.
After he won a national championship in 2016, Watson declared for the NFL Draft. Despite being one of the top prospects coming into the draft, he was still not expected to be in the top 5, and was still well below University of North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky on draft boards.
On Draft Day,the Browns traded their 12th overall pick to the Texans in exchange for the 25th overall pick and a first round pick in 2018. With this trade, the Texans selected Deshaun Watson, which was heralded by some and scolded by others, who were skeptical about Watson being able to translate his college talents into the NFL.
At first he didn’t live up to the hype, only garnering 227 yards and 1 touchdown over the first two weeks of the season. This momentarily affirmed the beliefs of many skeptics that Watson couldn’t translate his college success into the national football league.
— #ClemsonNFL (@Ex_Tigers) February 2, 2018
But from Week 3 and on, Watson became an MVP-caliber quarterback, throwing for 1,472 yards and a whopping 18 touchdowns. He did this over just a five week stretch, and probably would’ve continued to dominate if it weren’t for a torn ACL after Week 8.
Just to emphasize the importance of Watson, the Texans had a 3-4 record and averaged 31 points per game when he was playing. Without Watson, the Texans went 1-8 and averaged 14 points per game. This dramatic drop in offensive production, and in turn a terrible stretch for the Texans as a whole, displays just how much of a difference maker Deshaun Watson truly is.
The Texans have been searching for a quarterback ever since 2012, when Matt Schaub started his precipitous decline, and it looks like they’ve found the missing piece to the offense. The future for Deshaun Watson, and in turn the Texans, looks very bright.
If we want to extend Watson’s value to the Rookie of the Year conversation, we must realize that Watson is still leading the league, or still has good total statistics, despite only playing six games. He leads the league in total QBR rating with his 81.7 mark, which is better than Carson Wentz (75.3), Tom Brady (69.5), or Matt Ryan (63.7).
Furthermore, he is still ninth in rushing, and is ranked as the fourth best rushing quarterback in football, despite only playing about one-third of the season. Not to mention, Watson was also behind the worst offensive line in football, which allowed the most quarterback pressures of any offensive unit in football this season.
Overall, whether or not Watson’s tremendous season propels him into the Rookie of the Year slot, the Texans have been searching for a quarterback ever since 2012, and it looks like they’ve found the missing piece to the offense.