July 15, 2024

Analysts share stunning take on Steelers’ Wilson, Browns’ Watson

In their AFC North quarterback power rankings for the 2024 preseason, analysts Bucky Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network both somewhat surprisingly placed Cleveland Browns starter Deshaun Watson last on their lists beneath Russell Wilson of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“I don’t know if I had on the bingo card that you and I would both rank Russell Wilson over Deshaun Watson,” Brooks told Jeremiah during the latest edition of the “Move the Sticks” podcast, as shared by Ross McCorkle of Steelers Depot. “It just kinda shows how far, I would say, the shine has come off Deshaun Watson.”

Plenty of noteworthy members of the NFL community suggested before Wilson signed a team-friendly contract to join the Steelers in March that he’s past his prime following his rather forgettable two-season stint with the Denver Broncos. 

According to Pro Football Reference, Wilson finished the 2023 regular season ranked 22nd in the league among qualified players with a 50.7 adjusted QBR and 19th with a 43.3 percent passing success rate. He tossed 26 touchdown passes and eight interceptions over 15 games.

Watson, meanwhile, has made just 12 starts for the Browns since he missed the first 11 games of the 2022 season while serving a suspension related to allegations of sexual misconduct during massage sessions. Most recently, a shoulder injury limited him to just six contests this past campaign.

“He’s completed less than 60% (59.8%) of his passes,” Brooks said about Watson’s Cleveland tenure. “And at 14:9 touchdown interception ratio, that’s significant. I just find it surprising that we have maybe the top-paid quarterback, Deshaun Watson, at the bottom of the list.”

Earlier this week, Browns general manager Andrew Berry insisted that Watson is “really actually ahead of schedule” in his recovery from the shoulder-related setback. Jeremiah seemed skeptical regarding Berry’s claim.

“I just feel more confident that if Russell Wilson at his peak was an ‘A,’ I feel more confident that Russell Wilson can get back to being a ‘B,’ ‘B+’ player,” Jeremiah explained. “Whereas I’m not as confident that Deshaun Watson can get anywhere close to his ‘A’ game. He doesn’t resemble himself.”

Jimmy Watkins of the Cleveland Plain Dealer noted on Wednesday how Watson told reporters last week at minicamp he doesn’t “get involved with people trying to rate me places where they think I’m at the bottom of the list.” 

Nevertheless, Brooks and Jeremiah gave Watson some additional bulletin-board material as the 28-year-old attempts to get right for Cleveland’s regular-season opener versus the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 8.