HOUSTON -- As teams prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft, one of the biggest needs it to set up the draft board. Players that best fit the scheme will be in play when on the clock. In the end, 32 players will have found their home for 2021.
The Houston Texans must sit and wait until pick No. 67, hoping a talented target somehow falls down the boards.
As reported by the Houston Chronicle's John McClain, there were indications that Watson would have been moved before Thursday evening. The cost would have landed the Texans likely somewhere inside the top 10 and garnered a multitude of selections in return.
Eight teams wanted Watson this offseason. Several were picking early. Now, Houston could lose more than just an inability to truly jump-start the rebuild at NRG Stadium.
Barring a team assuming all will be perfectly well for the embattled QB, Watson will still be a Texan on May 1 when the final pick has been turned in. The 25-year-old quarterback still is facing 22 allegations of sexual misconduct and sexual assault.
If the NFL finds any information that goes against its policy, the league could suspend Watson for as long as it see fit. This renders meaningless, to some degree, the fact that four years into his NFL career, Watson has shown he's a top-five talent at the position.
Who, though, will trade for a player that may or may not even suit up for most of 2021? And when?
It seems foolish to think that Watson would not be traded. Entering the offseason, he had stated he was ready to move on from the franchise. Knowing they would be in a rebuild, first-year GM Nick Caserio could sell high on his demand.
Three first-round picks? Four first-rounders? Several players plus a couple selections? At least the fanbase would understand how it looks from a "building for tomorrow" standpoint.
Let's be frank: Watson would be worth more than today's price. The San Francisco 49ers sent the Miami Dolphins three first-round picks for a player that will be taken No. 3 on Thursday ... who may or may not work under center.
That was originally Houston's selection.
Instead, the Dolphins now will have five first-round picks from Thursday through 2023.
And Houston will watch two rounds of the proceedings.
In every single category, Watson defied the odds in 2020. He led the NFL in passing 4,823 yards, completing 70.2 percent of his passes to close out the year. He reset franchise records in passing touchdowns with 33 and threw a mere seven interceptions with a 112.4 QB rating
He did that without DeAndre Hopkins for all 16 games and Will Fuller as the leading man for only 10. Both are elsewhere and now Watson must wait to see if he'll even play again.
Teams wanted Watson and were willing to come up with trade offers before the allegations unfolded in March. Were any worth three first-round picks, two-second round picks and a defensive start? Probably not.
Should Houston have taken what they could at the time looking back? Time will only tell.
With each club that was interested in Watson now making the pick, Texans fans will watch in agony and wonder. Could Justin Fields have been available for Houston at No. 6? No. 8? No. 12?
What about Trey Lance, the upside prospect of the NFL Draft?
Watson's allegations could all disappear, eventually. The court could rule in his favor. The NFL could investigate, find nothing and let him return to the game without a second glance.
But ... Watson still doesn't want to be in Houston. Who's to say the new regime feels differently?
Even if innocent, the charges will never completely leave Watson's now complicated reputation. Teams will use that against Caserio and the Texans when conducting a trade.
And so ... In what could have been the start of a new era of positivity in Houston, now it remains unknown when the rebuild will be complete.
On each high pick Thursday evening, Texans fans will now have to wonder. ...
What if that player, due to a timely Watson trade, would now be a Houston Texan?
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