Deshaun Watson needs to unlock Donovan Peoples-Jones, Anthony Schwartz

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The addition of Deshaun Watson by the Cleveland Browns is likely to dominate the discussion around the team for some time. The allegations and charges off the field merit that level of discourse while the talent on the field merit that level of interest in the player.

With a year off from playing the game, Watson may have a lot of catching up to do. We also don’t know what type of punishment the quarterback could receive this season, if any, and how that will impact his play on the field.

What we do know is that, primarily, Watson chose the Browns because of the talent around him on the field. On the offensive side of the ball, the line is one of, if not the, best in the game. The same is true of the running back group. Among the pass catchers, Amari Cooper and David Njoku are good starting points but the team seems to lack proven talent outside of those two.

While Cleveland may bring back Jarvis Landry, or this out-of-the-box idea from our mock offseason, Watson has the responsibility to raise the performance of the weapons around him. In particular, the new quarterback needs to help Donovan Peoples-Jones and Anthony Schwartz get to the next level.

With the Houston Texans, Watson leaned heavily on DeAndre Hopkins but also helped Will Fuller develop. While Fuller never put up huge numbers, having less than half the targets as Hopkins will do that, he still became a dangerous deep threat.

In Cleveland, Watson may lean heavily on Cooper but, with his contract and amount of draft capital spent to acquire him, needs to raise the level of the players around him. Tom Brady famously got Deion Branch paid top receiver money by putting his receiver in a position to succeed. Last postseason, Buffalo’s Josh Allen made Gabriel Davis a breakout star with eight receptions for 201 yards and four touchdowns.

For Watson’s addition to be successful in Cleveland, he must be able to create similar impacts with receivers and quickly. Peoples-Jones has shown flashes of exciting play but has failed to produce consistently while Schwartz had a good first game as a rookie then faltered after that.

With all of the contracts handed out by the team over the last few years, the team may not be able to bring in a ton of high-priced weapons for Watson. With the three first-round picks, and more, sent out to get Watson, the team may not be able to draft them highly either. Watson must make do with what is on the team and who is brought in. That is what top-level quarterbacks do.