Most NFL Draft prospects were multi-year standouts at the college level, but that was not the case for Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins.
Haskins redshirted his freshman year in 2016 before backing up J.T. Barrett the next season -- experiences that helped mold Haskins into the signal-caller he has become.
“Sitting behind J.T. Barrett for two years, just learning how to be a quarterback, how to be a leader and how to prepare,” Haskins said during his press conference at the NFL Combine in March. “It taught me how to watch film, how to prepare for games and just being able to learn from him was probably more beneficial than playing.”
Entering his third collegiate season with no experience as a starting quarterback was a lot of pressure for Haskins, especially considering Ohio State began the 2018 campaign ranked No. 5 in the Associated Press Top 25 and had their sights set on another College Football Playoff appearance.
Yet during his only year in the spotlight, Haskins thrived. His 4,831 passing yards and 50 touchdowns were not only Ohio State single-season records but also Big Ten records, and both statistics were significant in Haskins finishing third in the Heisman Trophy voting behind Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa. As a team, Ohio State secured double-digit wins and captured a Big Ten championship. And while the Buckeyes were squeezed out of the College Football Playoff, they capped a 13-1 campaign with a victory in the Rose Bowl.
In just one season, Haskins cemented himself as a consensus first-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, with some believing he could be the quarterback of the future for the Redskins.
“I feel like each game I learned something new about myself, about my offense and my players around me," Haskins said. "As the season went on, I got more experience as far as knowing situations, knowing where to go with the ball, knowing when to force passes, when to check things down, knowing when to be conservative, when to gamble. So throughout the season I just got better at playing quarterback.”
According to Kyle Crabbs of The Draft Network, Haskins “projects as a prototypical pocket passer in the NFL. Haskins' best system fit is an offense that implements a lot of work in the intermediate areas of the field to capitalize on his accuracy to that area and mitigate his longer drops and prolonged reps holding the ball within the pocket. Haskins' ceiling will be determined by how much more accurate he can get his deep ball and getting his decision-making process to speed up. Is not overly effective beating pressure.”
Declaring for the 2019 NFL Draft was an easy decision for Haskins and one he planned to make even before last season. He knew that he had the necessary talent to make the NFL. He just needed an opportunity to showcase his abilities.
Haskins believes the toughest transition from college to the NFL will be learning a new scheme, especially since he spent the past three years running a no-huddle offense at Ohio State. For that season. many around the league suggest Haskins sit behind a veteran quarterback for a year, just like Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes did in 2017 before winning NFL MVP last season. In Haskins' mind, it's an understandable proposition.
“I can point to Ohio State and how I didn’t play for a year and a half at Ohio State,” Haskins said. “I played a little bit as a backup. I’m comfortable enough to be able to learn from someone that’s been there in front of me. I know that I’m going to compete and be ready when my time is called.”
Haskins has been rumored to be one of the first quarterbacks taken in draft, but he cares more about where he lands rather than when he comes off the board.
“It’s not that important for me,” Haskins said. “For me it’s about being with the right franchise, being with the right team and winning a Super Bowl. Whether I’m the first quarterback taken, it’s all a blessing regardless of where I’m going or what pick it is per se. But I don’t really care how it works out QB1, QB2.”