INDIANAPOLIS -- Although he spent the 2017 season watching from afar, new Houston Texans general manager Brian Gaine saw what quarterback Deshaun Watson did on the field during his rookie season, and he knew it was something special.
And while Watson's seven-game performance was impressive -- he was on pace to shatter the rookie passing touchdown record before he got hurt -- it is the “intangible profile” that Watson displayed a year ago that stood out to Gaine.
Gaine spent three years in Houston before leaving to become the Buffalo Bills vice president of player personnel in May 2017.
“The physical part you see on tape, everybody sees the ability and the demonstrated performance on the field, but what I can speak to is, a little more importantly, is the character of the individual, the makeup of the guy [and] the work ethic,” Gaine said Wednesday at the NFL scouting combine. “His passion for the game, his commitment to the game, in there early, staying late ... All the intangible profiles that you look for in a quarterback, he possesses those.
“Now, he’s only played six or seven games, so there’s a lot of progress to be made, a lot of improvement ahead of him, but when you’re breaking down the physical profile and the intangible profile of the player, the physical profile’s all good but I would equally say that the intangible profile is equally positive as well.”
After Gaine was hired in January, he praised Watson, calling him a “foundational piece” that the Texans can build around not only in the 2018 season but the future of the franchise as well.
Watson is recovering from a November surgery after he tore the ACL in his right leg during practice. Texans head coach Bill O’Brien said Wednesday that he believes Watson is “ahead of schedule” in his rehab.
“I think he’s doing real well,” O’Brien said. “He’s been through this before, unfortunately. He knows what the rehab process is and I think he’s doing a real good job.”
In early February, Watson said he was hopeful he could return to the field in some capacity during the Texans’ organized team activities this spring.
“I’m optimistic about [Watson’s return for OTAs], and a lot of it is because of his work ethic and his football character and his personal character,” Gaine said. “But [with] the makeup of the individual, I wouldn’t be surprised about that at all.”