Browns Star Deshaun Watson Disrespected in QB Rankings

Deshaun Watson

Getty Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson.

The upcoming season’s success for the Cleveland Browns is largely contingent on Deshaun Watson’s performance. However, one outlet remains skeptical about the former NFL passing leader’s capacity to bring about a significant turnaround.

Pro Football Network recently released its quarterback power rankings and Watson came in at No. 26. Some interesting names ahead of him include Tennessee Titans QB Ryan Tannehill, Detroit Lions passer Jared Goff, first-year Green Bay Packers starter Jordan Love, Atlanta Falcons second-year quarterback Desmond Ridder and even former Browns backup Jacoby Brissett, now in Washington.

Watson showed some evident rust last season after 700 days between starts. He played the final six games for the Browns, with the team going 3-3. Watson showed glimpses of his Pro Bowl form but completed 58.2% of his passes for 1,102 yards and seven touchdowns with five interceptions.

Watson landed in what PFN dubbed the “concerning tier” of quarterbacks.

“It had been a very long time since Watson had played football when he took the field for Cleveland in Week 12. Rust was always going to be a factor in his 2022 performance. But he was underwhelming, even relative to the muted expectations. Additionally, it didn’t appear as though the rust was being buffed out toward the end of the season.

“But while his performance was concerning, we know the latent ability he possesses could pop back up, and the Browns could be an AFC contender.”

Deshaun Watson Has Tuned Out Haters

Watson has been a target of criticism after his lackluster debut season with the Browns, with his hefty five-year, fully-guaranteed $230 million extension with the team putting him in the spotlight.

But Watson isn’t listening to the noise. He’s ready to prove them wrong.

“I don’t say anything. That’s their own opinions. I know who I am, this organization knows who I am and the guys that I play with know who I am. Everyone has their own opinions of what they want to say or how they want to–just the fact of last year. At the end of the day, I have an opportunity to go out there and prove what I need to prove in 2023. That’s what I’m focused on. I’m not focused on what anybody else has to say.”

Watson has shined in the team’s offseason workouts. Teammates and coaches have expressed that Watson is playing with more confidence and is looking like his old self. Watson also feels that the familiarity with the playbook and his coaches has helped.

“I’m pretty far ahead of where I was last year,” Watson said during minicamp. “Last year was, as far as football, being on the field, just running a new system, trying to adapt to different teammates, different players, how guys run routes, how Kevin calls the plays, and just being able to process the game at the speed I know. Being a year in and being able to talk to Kevin and AVP about what we want to do and being confident about it, it allows me to play a little bit faster when I’m on the field.”

Deshaun Watson Has New Weapons to Work With

Another factor in Watson’s success will be the Browns’ rebuilt wide receiver corps. Cleveland added Elijah Moore via trade, signed veteran speedster Marquise Goodwin and drafted Cedric Tillman with their top pick in the draft (No. 74 overall).

“I think it’s (about) the timing,” Watson said in May. “Being able to understand their breaks and how they get in and out of different routes and when man coverages come along, who can I rely on? Who can I go to when we need it the most?

“All those guys at the time — and of course it’s still early — have those capabilities of being that guy.”

The Browns have also been rumored to be in the mix for DeAndre Hopkins — a former teammate of Watson — although Cleveland appears to be a longshot for his services.