During the CBS broadcast of Sunday’s game between the Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans, lead announcer Andrew Catalon told a story about coach Hue Jackson texting quarterback Deshaun Watson on the day of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Citing a pre-game meeting with Watson, Catalon said the message was “Be ready,” implying that the Browns would select the National Championship-winning quarterback out of Clemson, but following the 33-17 loss to the Texans, Jackson denied such contact took place.
“Oh, my God. I don’t know anything about that,” Jackson said. “That’s so long ago. I met with that crew, and nobody asked me that. I met with the same crew, and that question never came up to me. I did text Deshaun before. I was in conversation with him, but I don’t recall draft day, at all. I don’t think I would’ve done that.”
Watson was a top-tier quarterback prospect because of a successful three-year run with the Clemson Tigers.
The Browns twice passed on opportunities to select Watson in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, and he made them pay for their decisions with a three-touchdown performance at NRG Stadium Sunday, as he completed 17 of his 28 attempts for 225 yards and three touchdowns with one interception.
In the victory over the Browns, Watson spread the ball out to eight different players, and became the first rookie quarterback with three or more touchdown passes in three consecutive games in the Super Bowl era.
Watson threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Will Fuller and gave the Texans a 10-3 lead over the Browns with 41 seconds to play in the first quarter.
Facing a second-and-two from Cleveland’s 39-yard line, Watson used an inside draw play-action fake to freeze the Browns’ defense, and found Fuller running open down the right side of the field. Fuller hauled in the pass at the four-yard line and motored his way into the end zone for the touchdown.
Then, former Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback/wide receiver Braxton Miller caught a one-yard touchdown pass and gave the Texans a 24-3 lead over the Browns with 3:04 to play in the second quarter.
Following the initial score, the Texans attempted a kick, but a penalty on the Browns gave them a second shot at the conversion. With the second chance, Watson threaded the needle to tight end Ryan Griffin for the two-point conversion.
After turning one of three first-half interceptions into a score, the Texans followed a safety of Browns quarterback Kevin Hogan with Watson’s third touchdown pass for a 33-3 lead over Cleveland in front of the home fans.
Despite the Browns sending out six defensive backs on third-and-goal from their own three-yard line, Watson took the shotgun snap, waited patiently for wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to break free in the middle of the end zone and delivered the touchdown pass.
The throw to Hopkins was Watson’s 16th touchdown pass over his first five starts as a professional, which matched 2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Kurt Warner for the most scoring passes over a player’s first five starts in NFL history.
“I know I did not send that text on draft day,” Jackson reiterated. “You said, ‘on draft day,’ so no, I knew who we were taking with the first pick. We took the guy that we wanted, so I don’t remember making that call, that text.
“I don’t remember making a text to him on draft day other than later on, telling him ‘Congratulations’ of him being drafted where he went to Houston. I don’t remember telling him to ‘Be ready’ for us to draft him or anything like that. No. I wouldn’t have done that.”