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Cleveland Browns Training Camp 2023: QB Preview, Part 1

Deshaun Watson is ready to lead his first full season with the Browns.

Cleveland Browns Offseason Workout Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

With training camp less than a month away, it is time to get started on our annual position-by-position preview for the Cleveland Browns! We start with the quarterback position, which we are breaking down into two parts. Part 1 covers Deshaun Watson and Joshua Dobbs, while Part 2 will go into the other two quarterbacks who are hoping to be the team’s primary backup.

Cleveland Browns Offseason Workout Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

1. Deshaun Watson - Starting QB

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 223 lbs | Age: 27
Experience: 7 years | College: Clemson

We all know how the 2022 season was supposed to go after the acquisition of Deshaun Watson. Although the team was mortgaging their future (for the next five years or so) on Watson, the concession was that last season was going to be a bit of a wash. Jacoby Brissett had other plans, though, and far exceeded expectations under center, giving fans a glimmer of hope for a playoff fairy tale. Defensive woes prevented Cleveland from being a legitimate playoff contender by the time Watson’s suspension concluded, although the team still had an outside shot to make it if Watson turned out to be spectacular. He wasn’t. In fact, he was unbearable at times.

In 6 games with the Browns, Watson completed 99-of-170 passes (58.2%) for 1,102 yards, 7 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. He was sacked 20 times and rushed 36 times for 175 yards and 1 TD. He went 3-3 as a starter. The statistics don’t tell the story of what the eye test said: Watson looked like he’d never thrown a football in his life at times, indicative of having missed nearly two years and facing so much noise off the field. Even in the three-touchdown game against the Commanders that people like to rave about, I remember thinking how it was more about bad defense from the opposition:

What do we do with all of that?

Throw. It. Away. None of it matters. It was ugly as hell, but that six-game stretch was just to get Watson back to football again so he could clear that hurdle ahead of the 2023 season. The expectation is that Watson will be back to his Pro Bowl form right out of the gate, as he’ll have a full offseason to work with and no suspensions lingering over him. Watson already looked sharp in OTAs in June, building connections with the likes of wide receivers Elijah Moore and Marquise Goodwin.

A differential asset for Watson is his ability to take off and run the ball. Even though he did it a fair amount of times in those six games last year, there were some key game moments where he obviously should have run it, but didn’t — his situational instincts should be far more polished as he gets back into the groove of things. Training camp will be important for Watson to build chemistry with his receivers, and unlike last year, he’ll receive almost all of the first-team reps in camp.

Final Roster Odds: 100%

Cleveland Browns Offseason Workout Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

2. Joshua Dobbs - Backup QB

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 220 lbs | Age: 28
Experience: 7 years | College: Tennessee

The Browns signed Joshua Dobbs last offseason to be the backup for Jacoby Brissett. Dobbs became a bit of a hero in the preseason, as he completed 35-of-53 passes for 338 yards and 2 TD. He also ran 6 times for 57 yards and 1 TD. This play alone from the preseason caught the attention of fans:

Dobbs was waived when Watson returned from his suspension. The Detroit Lions signed him to their practice squad in early December, but then in late-December, the Tennessee Titans signed him to their active roster. When Ryan Tannehill was out to injury and with rookie Malik Willis not playing up to par, head coach Mike Vrabel decided to give the keys to Dobbs to try to rescue their season. That included a Week 18 start that the Titans needed to win to make the playoffs — but despite a solid game, with under three minutes to go, he fumbled and it was returned for a go-ahead touchdown.

The thing that stuck with me last year with Dobbs, from watching him in camp, is that he doesn’t have a strong arm, but he showed some good anticipation and grit to make some plays that you’d think were out of his element. That is a good sign for a backup, so I’d feel comfortable with Dobbs in that role, or for a spot start. If he was needed for an extended period of time, though, I think the weaknesses become exposed enough to where the offense becomes a bit limited.

Normally, I would’ve put Dobbs’ roster odds a hair lower, in the event that one of the other two quarterbacks in camp out-shine him. However, Cleveland has already guaranteed Dobbs’ entire 2023 contract, which is worth $2 million. Sure, that’s a drop in the bucket compared to Watson, but I feel like it’s still enough of a commitment for the Browns to be telling him, “You’re our backup for the 2023 season.” And that sits fine with me.

Final Roster Odds: 90%


What are your expectations for Deshaun Watson in 2023?

This poll is closed

  • 37%
    Back to being the elite Deshaun Watson
    (69 votes)
  • 53%
    Not quite his former self, but a very solid QB
    (100 votes)
  • 5%
    Still inconsistent, for a mediocre season
    (11 votes)
  • 3%
    Laughably bad with non-stop rust
    (6 votes)
186 votes total Vote Now