The “quarterback carousel” has begun yet again for the New York Jets. After Ryan Fitzpatrick re-signed late in free agency with the team following a career year in 2015, he was unable replicate his performance. Fitzpatrick became a turnover machine, which led to his eventual benching in week 7 in favor of former second rounder Geno Smith.
Originally, Smith seemed to be in control of the starting QB spot heading into the 2015 season, but the infamous jaw breaking punch from IK Enemkpali derailed his season. Smith then tore his ACL in his first start since the 2014 season, leading the team to turn back to Fitzpatrick. Finally, Fitzpatrick was benched yet again after poor play and decided to give 2015 fourth rounder Bryce Petty shot.
While Petty did not play horribly, it was hard to find promise in his performance. This leads many fans, and analysts alike, to believe he is not the answer for the Jets. The team also has Christian Hackenberg, who they drafted in the second round last year, but an unnamed Jets assistant coach claimed that Hackenberg “can’t throw the ball into the ocean” when referring to the young quarterback’s accuracy. That does not sound promising for a team in desperate need for a franchise quarterback. Insert Deshaun Watson.
The Jets hold the sixth overall pick in the draft, and if Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson falls to them, there should be no hesitation to draft him. The latest PPF Mock Draft 4.0 has the Jets taking Watson. The consensus thought about this draft class is that it lacks a for-sure franchise, game-changing quarterback. North Carolina gunslinger Mitch Trubisky is generally seen as the top quarterback in the draft by many experts. Although the knock on him is that he does not have much game experience in college, being only a one-year starter, he has all the tools to potentially become a franchise quarterback. He is expected to be drafted within the top three picks, so now all eyes turn towards Watson.
Deshaun Watson had an outstanding career with the Clemson Tigers, topping it with an incredible College Football National Championship this past year. Winning has been a common theme throughout Watson’s career; the man just knows how to win. He had taken his team to the National Championship game for the past two years and has led his team on numerous fourth quarter comebacks. Along with his “clutch factor” and ability to win, he is tough for only weighing 215 pounds his junior year. He is not afraid to stand in under pressure and take a hit. He is also a very dynamic runner, which gives him the ability to extend plays.
The major drawbacks on Deshaun’s game, other than his slight build, is his decision making. Experts believe he does not let plays develop and if his number one option isn’t open, he struggles with accuracy. Watson also played in a spread offense while at Clemson, so he doesn’t have too much experience taking snaps under center. He will need to develop those skills, while also getting some help from a creative offensive coordinator, in order to get well-adapted to a Pro Style offense. While this could be somewhat of a concern, his stats barely show this as an issue. He leaves Clemson with a career 90-32 touchdown to interception ratio and has a 67.4% completion rate, both stats are very impressive.
Even with these “concerns” that draft analysts list, they could be ironed out easily once Watson is put into an NFL setting. Watson will easily be able to put on weight once he is introduced to an NFL strength program. His decision making will most likely also improve as he will be able to sit in on NFL quarterback meetings and learn the offensive system from high caliber assistant coaches.
How does Deshaun Watson fit with the Jets?
The team has a very talented group of skill players on offense. Some believe that Brandon Marshall will be able to bounce back after a down year where he was second in the league in dropped passes. With more consistent quarterback play, he should be able to come close to the numbers he put up in 2015. With Decker expected to come back from injury, and emerging players in Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson; Watson will have a great deal of talent to work with. He will also have a strong run game with a mix of Matt Forte (if he is not cut) and Bilal Powell, who closed out the season strongly. Mix in some mid-round talent and potential free agent signings to help bolster the offensive line and skill positions, Watson will have a chance to be very successful.
Some fans may want the Jets to replenish the defensive backs, which include a regressing Darrelle Revis who seems to be a victim of “Father Time”. Some may also want a running back such as Leonard Fournette, as ESPN NFL Draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. has them taking, or Dalvin Cook at the sixth spot. This draft class is full of impactful skill players, so they could find a corner, safety, and/or running back later in the draft to fill those needs.
It is understood that drafting Deshaun would be a huge risk, especially considering both general manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles may be on the “hot seat” this upcoming season. If Watson does not turn out to be the quarterback of the future for the Jets, expect those two gone by the end of the season. Newly hired Jets OC John Morton will need to be willing to tailor his system to Deshaun Watson’s strengths. If Morton adjusts his system and Watson improves on some poor habits he developed last season, then there is no reason for the Jets to pass on him with the sixth pick.