Last year, NFL analysts predicted Deshaun Watson to land on the 2017 All-Rookie Team. After just seven games with six starts, Watson’s performance did indeed earn him a spot among the NFL’s best newcomers in 2017, though he was the only rookie quarterback on the list.
“In less than half a season, Watson showed the makings of a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback who's capable of taking a team to the playoffs,” NFL media senior analyst Gil Brandt wrote. “I liked what I saw a lot, especially in his final appearance of 2017: that 402-yard, four-touchdown effort against Seattle in Week 7."
Watson set NFL records for the most passing touchdowns through a player’s first seven career games in NFL history and the most passing touchdowns (18) by a rookie over any five-game span in NFL history. Watson underwent season-ending knee surgery after suffering a non-contact injury in practice on Nov. 1.
Brandt also named linebacker Zach Cunningham as one of five rookies who missed the cut. Cunningham finished his rookie campaign tied for second on the team and second among all NFL rookies in total tackles (82), which also marked the fourth-most in a single season in franchise history by a rookie. Cunningham, who played in all 16 games with 13 starts, also had 1.5 sacks, five tackles for loss two quarterback hits, six passes defensed, and a forced fumble.