Because people in my personal life know I’m a big Browns fan and write for Dawgs By Nature, after the Clemson-Alabama game ended, I’ve lost count of how many people came up to me during the week to ask, “Well? What do you think? Are we taking [Deshaun] Watson at No. 1 now?”
It’s not that I’m against Watson — it’s that I don’t have as informed of an opinion as I’d like to have to answer that question yet. I told most people to ask me around the beginning of March, because it’s way too early to make that type of judgment.
Watson’s value right now is all over the map. How many times have we seen the same story over the past few years? At first, there is speculation that quarterbacks might not even be drafted in the first round. The closer the draft gets, though, some magical consensus forms among everyone that one or two quarterbacks are going in the Top 5. It’s already begun — first, let’s take a look at what Daniel Jeremiah of the NFL Network said today:
@FieldGulls his call. I'm cool either way. I'm just telling you, I haven't talked to one team that has a first rd grade on him.— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) January 13, 2017
Jeremiah had been following up on a question about whether Watson should participate in the Senior Bowl. “What does he have to gain?” Well, if nobody has a first round grade on him right now, then he’d best be served trying to improve his stock as much as he can, especially if he can tempt a team like Cleveland.
But then you listen to Adam Schefter and Chris Mortenson of ESPN, and they are singing an entirely different tune of optimism in their most recent notebook:
Two NFL personnel directors and one NFL general manager each predicted this week, after Monday night's national championship win, that Watson has pushed himself into the top half of the first round. One predicted: "Cleveland could take him at No. 1 -- look who's coaching them." Another said Watson would be a top-five pick, while the third was supremely confident that Watson would go within the top 10.
They go on with more detail, but you get the point. Perhaps is a difference of “grade” vs. “need.” Or maybe, since we still haven’t even reached the NFL Combine, nobody has a firm grasp on the quarterback class just yet.