Cleveland Browns Urged Top Quarterback To Attend Senior Bowl

Jan 1, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson talks with quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) during the second quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 1, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson talks with quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) during the second quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /
NFL: Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers
NFL: Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers /

The Cleveland Browns, like a number of other teams are learning about the value of the Senior Bowl in terms of finding a franchise quarterback.

Through this method teams like the Cincinnati Bengals (Andy Dalton), Washington Redskins (Kirk Cousins), Oakland Raiders (Derek Carr) and Dallas Cowboys (Dak Prescott) found value at the position going into the draft. Cleveland knows that this is a position that has haunted them for years and they can’t afford to get it wrong. Not with two 1st and two 2nd round picks at their disposal. That’s why they were hoping to get as many top quarterbacks to attend the events at Mobile as possible.

One in particular.

Peter King of the MMQB delivered an interesting nugget regarding the Browns and what they had hoped their Senior Bowl plans would be. Suffice to say they involved taking a close look at a star Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson. A chance that was lost due to what many feel is a gigantic missed opportunity.

"“I think this qualifies as a terrific waste of opportunity: Quarterback Deshaun Watson is skipping the Senior Bowl this week. Watson (Clemson) would have logically played for the South team, which will be coached by Hue Jackson and the Cleveland Browns coaching staff. If you’ve got faith in your ability, and you want to convince the coach of the team with the first pick in the draft—the team that desperately needs a quarterback and will almost certainly choose one high in the draft if it can’t trade for one or sign one before that—why would you not take the golden opportunity to work with Jackson for a week? The other two prime quarterbacks in the draft, Mitch Trubisky and DeShone Kizer, were not eligible, either because they weren’t seniors or because they hadn’t graduated. But a couple notes about the Watson miss: The Browns talked to him and asked him to play this week; he declined. Some of the other players who chose to decline a Senior Bowl invitation, fair or unfair, went much lower in the draft than they’d hoped—Geno Smith, Brett Hundley, Connor Cook, A.J. McCarron.”"

There are reasons to think Watson isn’t up to playing the Senior Bowl. He just got finished logging 15 games this past college season. His final two years involved 30 total and two trips to the national championship game. That’s a lot for a young quarterback to absorb. To say nothing of the serious beating his body took against Alabama during that game a few weeks ago. No doubt he’d love a few extra weeks to rest and recuperate.

At the same time Watson isn’t exactly what people would call a lock for anything in this draft. Though experts agree he’s a smart, tough and athletic young man there are still misgivings about his overall game as a passer. Specifically arm strength and accuracy when trying to throw down the field. Ball placement was a problem quite often, leading to a number of interceptions.

Next: San Francisco 49ers: The Logic Behind Pursuing Kirk Cousins

Cleveland loves his intangibles and competitiveness like everybody else. Getting to see him up close would’ve had a profound impact on their plans. Don’t forget they hold bold the #1 and #12 picks in the 1st round. Watson may think he’ll have plenty of time to meet with them during the scouting combine and pro days to come. However, those are different. The Senior Bowl is a chance to see a player in a true football environment. How one practices and how he applies what he practiced to a game situation.

This is what makes guys like Brady, Ryan and Rodgers so great. Cleveland wants to see if Watson has that capability. He may have made it harder for them to reach that conclusion, and it could cost him millions of dollars.