The Browns will start Kevin Hogan at quarterback Sunday against Deshaun Watson and the Texans. The most compelling storyline is obvious: Did the Browns make a mistake by passing on Watson twice in the 2017 Draft?
For obvious reasons, Browns coach Hue Jackson did not feel like talking about it on Wednesday.
“I totally get it,” Jackson said, per Pro Football talk. “What did I tell you guys earlier in the week? You guys can say whatever you like. I get it. I get the second guessing, the questions and all of that. You are entitled to do all of that. DeShone Kizer is on our team. Deshaun Watson is on their team. We can’t all of a sudden flip them, so why are we having this discussion?”
We’re having this discussion because the Browns benched Kizer and are now preparing to start their 28th quarterback since 1999. Meanwhile, the Texans appear to have found their franchise quarterback in Watson. And the only reason why the Texans have Watson is because they traded up with the Browns to take him with the 12th overall pick. The Browns also owned the first pick in the draft. So technically, they passed on Watson twice in a span of 12 picks. That’s why we’re having this discussion.
Don’t bother asking Jackson if he wanted to take Watson with one of those picks. He won’t say.
“It doesn’t matter,” Jackson said. “He is in Houston. It doesn’t matter for this reason: Whether we did or didn’t, that is not the point. The point is we are getting ready to play the Houston Texans in Houston. Here is our football team. We are 0-5, and we are trying to go get a football victory. It doesn’t matter. He plays quarterback there. Kevin Hogan is playing quarterback for us this week, and DeShone Kizer is backing him up. … I understand how you guys feel, but to me, to go down that road and talk about this, that, what should have been and what could have been, that doesn’t do anything for anybody.”
Hindsight is always 20/20 and there have been plenty of first-round quarterback busts over the years …
… but it’s worth noting that Watson has completed 62.1 percent of his passes, averaged 7.39 yards per attempt, thrown 12 touchdowns and four picks, rushed for two touchdowns and posted a 100.7 passer rating in five games (four starts). That sounds like a quarterback who could’ve helped the Browns. As it currently stands, the Texans — not the Browns — are the team that can have no regrets about the draft day trade.
But the Browns did at least get defensive end Myles Garrett No. 1 overall, who has played in one game and already has two career sacks. Furthermore, this is not the time to give up on Kizer, who the Browns selected in the second round. Kizer still has potential and as the Browns get better at every position — they still own a ton of draft picks — he’ll likely improve. And let’s not act like we know for certain that Watson would be a star on a Browns team that doesn’t have DeAndre Hopkins like the Texans do. There’s a ton of variables at play in this hypothetical situation.
Besides, let’s see how the Browns look in a few more seasons once they’re done using all of those draft picks they’re collected over the past couple seasons. According to Cleveland.com, they have two first-round picks and three second-round picks. If they can hit on those picks — and that’s one big if — no one will care nearly as much about their decision to pass on Watson.