HOUSTON (AP) – The Houston Texans addressed their need at quarterback by trading with Cleveland to select Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson with the 12th overall pick in the NFL draft on Thursday night.
The Texans traded away the 25th overall pick in this year’s draft as well as their first-round selection next season to nab Watson.
The Browns already have Houston’s second-round pick in 2018 after receiving it in the trade for Brock Osweiler this offseason. Houston was in desperate need of a quarterback after giving up on Osweiler and trading him away one inconsistent season after signing him to a $72 million contract in 2016.
The only quarterbacks on their roster before the draft were Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden, giving Watson a great chance to start as a rookie.
This is the first time the Texans have selected a quarterback in the first round since taking David Carr with the first overall pick in their first season.
Watson threw for 4,593 yards and 41 touchdowns last season to lead Clemson to the national title.
The two-time Heisman Trophy finalist led Clemson to 28 wins in his last two seasons and to consecutive appearances in the national championship game. Watson went 32-3 in his career as a starter, which is the best winning percentage for a quarterback in school history. He finished his career third in Atlantic Coast Conference history with 12,094 yards of total offense and threw for 10,163 yards and 90 touchdowns in his career.
He joins a team featuring star receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who also went to Clemson. Hopkins, Houston’s first-round pick in 2013, expressed his excitement about the pick by simply tweeting a smiling face emoji soon after he was selected.
Chargers draft Clemson’s Williams at No. 7
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Chargers used their first draft choice after their move north on a playmaker who could attract plenty of attention in their new home.
The Chargers grabbed Clemson receiver Mike Williams with the seventh overall pick Thursday night, passing on a handful of elite defensive prospects to add a big-play target for Philip Rivers.
The 6-foot-3 Williams won the national title last season, leading the Tigers with 98 catches for 1,361 yards and 11 touchdowns. He worked out for the Chargers recently, but he wasn’t sure they were sold on him until he got a phone call from the front office right before the pick — and then had to call them back when the call dropped out.
“I’m looking forward to living in LA,” Williams said in a phone interview from his family home in South Carolina. “The weather is great. I have to get used to it, so I’m going to get used to it fast.”
With an eight-catch, 94-yard performance against Alabama in the national title game, Williams capped an impressive return to elite form and established himself as one of the best pass-catching prospects in the nation. He missed nearly all of the 2015 season when he broke a bone in his neck by running into the goalpost in the first series of Clemson’s season opener.
Although Rivers has consistently racked up impressive statistics in recent years, the Chargers have been looking for a dominant receiver since Vincent Jackson left for Tampa Bay in 2012. Keenan Allen has three 700-yard seasons, but he has played in just nine games in the past two years and is attempting to return from a season-ending torn knee ligament in San Diego’s 2016 opener.
“I love the pick,” said Anthony Lynn, the Chargers’ new head coach. “We put in a lot of work, and we liked him. He was No. 1 on our board. Glad we could get him.”
The Chargers’ top pass-catcher last season was 6-foot-4 Tyrell Williams, who made 69 receptions for 1,059 yards. He could team with the 6-foot-2 Allen and the big rookie to provide an imposing size matchup for any defense.
“Keenan on the other side, I’m on the opposite side, it’s something I look forward to,” Mike Williams said. “I think we can be two great receivers in the league. I look forward to getting with him and having fun.”
After finishing 5-11 last season and missing the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years, the Chargers are loaded with skill-position talent for their first season in Los Angeles. They will play in the 30,000-seat StubHub Center while trying to attract attention away from the Rams and a crowded sports marketplace.
Along with those top three receivers, Los Angeles will have running back Melvin Gordon and tight ends Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry around Rivers.
“We didn’t just go target a wide receiver,” Lynn said. “We thought Mike was the best available on our board. We did have some injuries at that position last year, but we expect all those guys to be healthy next year.”
Williams was the second receiver taken in the first seven picks of the draft.
The Chargers celebrated their pick and their move by throwing a party for thousands of season ticket holders at Downtown Disney, the entertainment district just outside Disneyland. Fans put down their free chicken wings and roared in approval when Williams’ name was announced by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.