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Deshaun Watson: It’s a night-and-day difference from this time last year

Mike Florio and Chris Simms outline what the Browns must focus on in the draft, despite not having a first- or second-round pick, from weapons around Deshaun Watson to defense and more.

On his first day of the Browns’ offseason program a year ago, Deshaun Watson faced uncertainty. He was with a new team, learning new teammates, and had a suspension hanging over his head.

He eventually served an 11-game suspension for violating the league’s Personal Conduct Policy after more than two dozen women accused him of sexual misconduct during massage sessions.

The Browns quarterback begins this offseason feeling different about where he is.

“It’s night and day,” Watson said Tuesday.

Watson had not played in almost two years when he returned to the field last season. He did not play like a quarterback worthy of the largest guaranteed contract in NFL history, throwing for 1,102 passing yards, seven touchdowns, five interceptions and posting a 3-3 record in six starts.

“Last year, it was just a whirlwind, but it was a good learning lesson for myself and for me to be able to grow,” Watson said. “Coming in this year, I’m ahead of the game from where I was previously.”

Watson now has settled 23 of 25 civil lawsuits in Texas and deferred questions to his “legal team” about the two remaining cases.

He has served his suspension, and he now feels comfortable in Cleveland and with the Browns.

“Last year, I had only been to Cleveland twice -- when I came on a pre-visit and when we played,” Watson said. “Outside of that, it was my first time up here with everything going on. All of that is in the past, like I said before, and I’m looking to move forward with my life and my career, just being able to really plant myself in this community, this city and also in this organization for a very long time. Win a whole bunch of games.”

Watson has spent most of the offseason near Houston, throwing to some of the team’s wide receivers. His return to the team facility this offseason also has had a “night-and-day” feeling to it for the Browns compared to this time last year.

“For Deshaun, to have that season under his belt and those experiences and be able to learn from everything that’s happened last year into the past, I think he’ll be a better player for it,” Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said. “I think we’ll all be better for everything we’ve been through.”