1. Deshaun Watson, Quarterback
The Cleveland Browns went all in this offseason for Deshaun Watson as they traded a boatload of draft picks — headlined by three first-round selections — for the former Houston Texans superstar. They knew Watson would spend much of this season suspended, and that came true when he was hit with an 11-game ban.
Jacoby Brissett held down the fort before Watson returned and with the Browns sitting at 4-7 at that time, the final six games became all about Watson knocking off the rust.
Following a 700-day layoff, he wasn’t sharp but did start to show signs of improvement as the season went along. Watson finished with 1,102 yards and a 7-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio while leading Cleveland to a 303 record.
Of course, it might have looked even better had it not been for the case of the drops the wideouts had in their Week 16 loss to New Orleans.
Looking ahead to 2023, this team will go as Watson goes. While it’s true they have other star players such as Myles Garrett and Nick Chubb, we’ve already seen that’s not enough to get them where they want to go.
Cleveland needs a quarterback capable of delivering in the clutch, as well as one who can give them a chance in shootouts against teams such as the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills should they get back into the playoffs.
Watson can do that for them, but we have to see it happen in order for them to have any success.