Ranking Josh Allen among the QBs of the AFC before 2022 NFL Draft

Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills (Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports)
Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills (Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Josh Allen
Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images) /

7. Deshaun Watson (Cleveland Browns)

This was by far my toughest ranking. In football alone, Watson is one of the best QBs in the league when on the field. But, obviously, him not playing in 2021 was much bigger than football.

During his last season in Houston, Watson was able to lead the league in passing yards (4,823) while setting career-highs in TD passes (33), completion percentage (70.2%), and passer rating (112.4). His advanced numbers were off the charts as well — Watson set another career-best mark with his 1.3% INT rate, 80.3% on-target throws rate and a 15.1% poor-throws rate.

One of the top dual-threat passers in the game too, Watson also rushed for 444 yards that year, his third straight season doing so. In fact, from 2018 to 2020, Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen were the only QBs to rush for more yards in that span.

Now the 2020 campaign was not all roses for Watson, as the Texans finished 4-12. But he was able to do what he seemed to always do while in Houston; cover up the mistakes of an average-to-below-average roster.

Yes, the Texans made the playoffs under Watson in 2018 and 2019, but he lifted up those teams in many ways. Watson did have DeAndre Hopkins in his first three seasons, but who was his most reliable No. 2 option? Will Fuller? Kenny Stills?

The running game was mediocre at best, his offensive line was never ranked above 20th overall in PFF’s annual offensive line rankings, and Bill O’Brien seemed dead set on sabotaging Watson once he added the general manager role to his head-coaching duties.

And the situation Watson is going to in Cleveland has to have him and Browns fans backflipping. They have arguably the best o-line in the game, the best one-two punch at RB in the NFL with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, a new No. 1 wideout in Amari Cooper, as well as an athletic tight end pairing of David Njoku and Harrison Bryant.

Let’s not forget a defense led by Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward, John Johnson III, as well as rookie sensations Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Greg Newsome II. Adding a three-time Pro Bowler at QB into that mix sounds like a recipe for success.

That is if that QB is going to be on the field. Watson is still under the spotlight for 22 open civil suits that he vows to not settle on. The belief is that his involvement with the alleged victims, who opened up on experiences with Watson at massage parlors, will ultimately have him serving a suspension at some point during the 2022 season.

Only time will tell how much more action Watson will miss after he last played on Jan. 3, 2021. But for the Browns, the long-term upside of Watson over Baker Mayfield was what Cleveland was willing to give up on in the short term in hopes of one day raising the Lombardi Trophy.