Deshaun Watson will almost certainly be taken in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday, but where he goes is a mystery. Some draft experts believe he’ll be taken outside of the top 20, while some believe he could go inside the top five.
“From what I understand, Tom Coughlin likes Deshaun Watson,” The MMQB’s Albert Breer said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “Now, liking him and liking him enough to take him fourth overall are two different things. But my understanding – and I’ve heard this from a bunch of different teams – is not to rule out the idea that the Jaguars could take Deshaun Watson and then sit him for a year in what will be Blake Bortles’ contract year and then go forward with him and that he’d be the perfect tone-setter for Tom Coughlin’s new program, for Doug Marrone’s new program, and that Coughlin is of a mind where he’s ready to move on from Blake Bortles.
“Now the flip side to the argument is that you have invested a lot of time and money and effort into Blake Bortles over the last three years,” Breer continued. “If you bring in Leonard Fournette, maybe you see something different from Blake Bortles. Maybe you can create a different environment around him, and maybe you get one final clean read on what he is as a player before you give up on him. So to me, that’s kind of the argument there. Do you like Deshaun Watson as the new program-setter to turn the page and start over again? Or do you want to get one last look at Bortles with a guy who could be a generational talent at running back?”
Bortles, who turns 25 on Friday, has had an up-and-down NFL career. As a rookie in 2014, he had 11 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. In 2015, he had 35 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. And in 2016, he had 23 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. His completion percentage has been between 58.6 percent and 58.9 percent for his entire career.
“Between Year One and Year Two, he really rebuilt his fundamentals and really rebuilt his base and did a lot of hard work in getting himself ready for the 2015 season – and he saw dividends,” Breer said. “It wasn’t perfect, but he showed a lot of progress from ’14 to ’15. That was apparent with the way the whole offense played. The whole offense was markedly better in 2015 than 2014. And there was a point last year in camp where he’s watching tape with his coaches and he barks out in the middle of a meeting, ‘I can’t believe I’m throwing it like that again.’ And there was a feeling in the building that maybe he wasn’t as tight with all the stuff that he had worked so hard on in 2015 in 2016. And so, now I think the big question for the Jaguars becomes whether or not that’s something that’s ingrained in him (or whether) he just needed to go back and work a little harder.”
Bortles doesn’t need to throw for 5,000 yards and 40 touchdowns this season, but he does need to show improvement. He also needs to win games. The Jaguars are 11-37 (.229) since drafting him.
“It’s a big spring for him no matter what,” Breer said. “Whether they take Watson or not, it’s a huge, huge spring for him because this is going to dictate his future in the NFL. And even if they draft Watson, there’s a good chance he’s going to be playing and a lot of people in that building are watching to see what he comes back looking like, if he’s able to do the same kind of work in 2017 as he did in 2015, where he was able to kind of tighten up all he stuff that were the problem areas for him coming out of UCF.”