Deshaun Watson proved that his transition from college to the NFL, even from backup to starter, was a smooth one. In just seven games with six starts, Watson put his athleticism and football instincts on full display. Head coach Bill O'Brien believes another trait is key to the quarterback's success.
"I talk about (Tom) Brady's memory all the time," O'Brien said at the Annual League Meeting in March. "I mean, Brady had an incredible memory. He had a bank of knowledge. I think that's one of the things that makes him great. I've said that a lot about Brady and I see with Deshaun (Watson), he has a really good ability to remember. So, that's big in a game."
Experienced quarterbacks like Brady and Peyton Manning have been known for their split-second ability to read defenses. Young quarterbacks have a much steeper learning curve to reach that point, but players with excellent recall prove to quicker studies.
"'Hey, I remember it was a 12-play drive and on the fourth play of that drive in between series this is what they did. I remember that. I have a picture of it in my mind.' That's something that I think is really important for a quarterback, I really do," O'Brien said.
Last season, he often praised Watson for rarely made the same mistake twice, much of that could be credited to the 22-year-old quarterback's memory. O'Brien admits Watson impressed him during a conversation at last year's NFL Scouting Combine.
"I would say to him – in this combine meeting – I would say to him, 'Hey, the 10th play of the Alabama game, it was 3rd-and-5, and the ball was on the…' – he would finish my sentence," O'Brien said. "He would say 'Yeah, yeah I remember that play. We were in empty and this is what happened. I directed the protection this way.' I was like, 'Whoa.' That was one of the first things that stood out to me."
In 2017, Watson set NFL records for most passing touchdowns (19) through a player's first seven career games in NFL history. He also set an NFL record for the rookie with the most passing touchdowns (18) over any five-game span in NFL history.
Check out some of the best photos of QB Deshaun Watson during his rookie season.