Dwayne Haskins sat looking at his phone, listening to commissioner Roger Goodell announce that the Giants had taken quarterback Daniel Jones with the sixth-overall pick in the NFL Draft. He let out a slight chuckle.
"What did I think?” Haskins said, when asked later what was going through his mind as Jones was called. “I didn't think anything. I talked to my family that I knew [Jones] was going to get picked. I’m just looking forward to being able to compete against those guys for the rest of my career."
And so Haskins comes to Washington with a chip on his shoulder, eager to prove to the league why he shouldn’t have been passed on (especially by the Giants) and eager to prove why the Redskins got the steal in this year’s draft.
“We’re excited to have him,” head coach Jay Gruden said following the first night of the draft. “Great kid, great player and very smart. I had a chance to talk to him at the Combine. We flew him in here, had a long talk with him, went to dinner with him and spent a lot of time with him. We feel really good about where he is as a player and where he’s going.”
Gruden admitted that the team had considered trading up for Haskins. The Redskins had a number of players they were comfortable taking with the 15th-overall pick, but as it played out – once the Giants selected quarterback Daniel Jones – and less quarterback-needy teams drafted in front of them – they felt no need to make a deal.
“We were hoping Dwayne would fall to us and he did and fortunately we got him,” Gruden said. “But really it is just a matter of waiting and seeing who is there.”
Haskins waited with his family inside the bowling alley he had rented out in Gaithersburg, Md., and finally received a phone call from a 703 area code. Haskins knew they’d be calling.
“I had one year in college and I feel like I showed all I could as far as one year – I broke a lot of records, did a lot of great things and I feel like I did a lot of stuff that shows that I can translate to the NFL,” Haskins said. “Just being able to do what I did at a high level, I thought it was the right choice for me to make that change to go to the pros and I’m grateful that the Redskins thought so as well and selected me.”
Take a look at photos of the complete 2019 Draft Class for the Washington Redskins.
Haskins, who lived in Potomac, Md., and attended Bullis School, spoke with owner Dan Snyder throughout the draft process, helping solidify his stock in Washington.
“I was able to meet him during the Draft process,” Haskins said. “It is cool that his son went to my high school and that I know his son. It is crazy how small this world is and how you can meet somebody and it can change your life. That is why I make sure I treat people the way I want to be treated and I do all I can do to make sure that I leave a lasting impression on people. I think that Mr. Snyder thought that I was the guy for the franchise. I am just hopeful and I am excited for the future."
The present is a little cloudier. Gruden said he doesn’t have expectations right now. Those will develop over the next couple months and in training camp, when Haskins will work in tandem with veterans Case Keenum and Colt McCoy – a quarterback competition “out the yin-yang,” Gruden called it.
“We have Case [Keenum] here, we are very happy that we have him,” he said. “He is an experienced quarterback who's done it. Colt’s [McCoy] been a guy who has been in our system for a long time, he is trying to come back from that injury. Now we have Dwayne [Haskins], so we have three quarterbacks in the building we feel good about. Of course Alex [Smith] is still rehabbing and doing what he has to do. So, it’s just a matter of getting them all in the room. Throwing the ball out there, letting them throw and we will continue to progress and let guys have an opportunity to play."
Still, when an organization makes a first-round pick, it’s making an investment in a starter. Gruden and co. know that especially in today’s NFL, maximizing the window of opportunity during a quarterback’s rookie contract is vital.
"Well if you’re the 15th pick in the draft, I think you have to give him an opportunity without a doubt,” Gruden said. “We feel good about the guys we have in the building for sure. But when you take a guy in the first round at anytime your going have to give him a chance to compete. That’s just the way it is, that’s the way pro football is. Case [Keenum] has been through competitions before. Obviously Colt has been through many, many competitions and the type of guys that they are they should welcome it and they should expect it. That’s the way pro football is, that’s the way it's always going to be and that’s the way it will be this year."
Haskins agrees. He’s ready to compete. Mostly, he’s ready to be on a team again.
"Expectations are to work as hard as I can, do all I can and be a part of this position [group] and this franchise,” Haskins said. “I'm looking forward to contributing in any way possible and just get down and work. I'm just excited to be a part of something special and be a part of a team again. I am looking forward to calling the Redskins my home. Things will come and I'm just going to do everything I can to be ready."