by Brendan Taffe

I had a very high opinion of Dwayne Haskins going into the 2019 NFL Draft. With only seven starts in an unfortunate situation last year, my opinion of him has not changed. He threw for seven touchdowns and seven interceptions on a 58.6% completion percentage. Those numbers do not scream optimism, but when looking at the whole picture, it is easy to see why he struggled. Let’s take a look at the situation.

Haskins came off the bench in two games before getting his first start, which was in Buffalo against the vaunted Bills defense. With Jay Gruden getting fired after an 0-5 start, multiple people began calling the shots in D.C. His top offensive lineman, Trent Williams, did not play a game, thirty-four-year-old Adrian Peterson was the team’s leading rusher, and Haskins’ number one receiver was a rookie. 

Twenty-two-year-old Haskins was facing an uphill battle. However, this year, with the team in a different situation, fantasy owners can have confidence in him as a late-round pick.

Last season was likely the most adversity Haskins had faced in his entire football career. The four-star recruit played at Ohio State University, where he was a one-year starter. In that year, the Buckeyes went 13-1 and concluded the season by defeating Washington in the Rose Bowl. Haskins threw for over 4800 yards with 50 touchdowns on a 70% completion percentage. He shared a field with RB J.K. Dobbins of the Ravens, WR Parris Campbell of the Colts, and WR Terry McLaurin, whom he reunited with in Washington.

Besides Alabama, LSU, and Clemson, few college programs can compete with the amount of talent Ohio State puts on the field. Because of this, the transition from beating up B1G teams to facing NFL teams much better than the Redskins was likely very difficult for Haskins. In the last few years, we have been able to see how much of an impact a rookie quarterback’s landing spot has on his potential. Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes went to stable organizations with Hall of Fame coaches and are already the class of the AFC. Meanwhile, Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold, who were both drafted higher than Jackson and Mahomes, still have a lot to figure out because of who called their name on draft day.

Arguably the most significant move the team made over the offseason was hiring Ron Rivera as Head Coach. Rivera most recently spent nine years as the Panthers Head Coach, winning two Coach of the Year awards and an NFC Championship during his tenure. Rivera is known as a “Players-Coach”, which means he is well-respected by his players and has a less-than authoritarian coaching style. Mike Tomlin of the Steelers and Mike Vrabel of the Titans are two of the clearest examples of a “Player-Coach.”

The coaching change is crucial as it relates to Haskins because Rivera’s first year in Carolina was also Cam Newton’s first year in the NFL. Rivera helped groom Newton to three Pro Bowls, an MVP award, and a Super Bowl appearance. Drafted to an organization that could be considered unstable, Dwayne Haskins should consider himself lucky that his new Head Coach has gone through the experience of coaching a young franchise quarterback.

Although some of the shine has come off him as a prospect, Dwayne Haskins was a first-round pick. Kyler Murray was seemingly a lock to be Kliff Kingsbury’s very first NFL selection at the top of the draft, and the Giants surprised everyone by calling Daniel Jones‘ name at 6th overall. 

Those moves left Washington with a gift in the middle of the first round. A stark difference from Murray, Haskins is 6’3″ and weighs 230 lbs. He does not provide much with his feet, which limits his upside as a fantasy asset. He makes up for those constraints with his arm, and what a gun he has. Haskins is renowned for his combination of arm strength and accuracy. Considering he only had one full year as a college starter, and the turbulent rookie season last year, he has a lot of room for growth.

This chart by Ian Wharton (@NFLFilmStudy on Twitter) lists all the first-round quarterbacks dating back to 2012. In the corresponding columns, Wharton shows the catchable ball percentages for each passer. Green signifies a top 20 QB, yellow 21-40, orange 41-60, and red 61-80.

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2020 1st overall pick Joe Burrow just finished the greatest season ever by a college quarterback. He and Haskins are the only two on this list of 28 first-round quarterbacks to score in the green in every category. Washington has a talented quarterback on their hands, but he cannot do it alone. Rivera and company dedicated most of their draft picks to the offensive side of the ball to support their young gunslinger. With the #2 overall pick, they selected Ohio State DE Chase Young. Young should change the Redskins defense from Day 1 and was a no-brainer pick. After Young, though, the next four picks went towards helping Haskins.

With the 66th pick, the team selected Antonio Gibson from Memphis. Gibson is a running back-receiver hybrid, who can be used all over the field. With Rivera’s experience in drafting and coaching Christian McCaffrey, Haskins should be thrilled with Gibson’s arrival. The team dipped their toe again into the pool of offensive athletes when they called Antonio Gandy-Golden’s name in the 4th round. The Liberty product is 6’4″ and runs a respectable 4.6 40 yard dash to give Haskins another option on the outside. With the team’s selections at 108 and 156 overall, they drafted two offensive linemen. As Darnold and Rosen can attest, an offensive line can make or break the start to a young quarterback’s career.

Dwayne Haskins seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle of the recent quarterbacks to enter the NFL. He is not as flashy as Kyler Murray, he did not have a rookie season like Baker Mayfield, Haskins does not have the draft capital of Sam Darnold, and he does not have the weapons of Drew Lock. Haskins is a talented quarterback who is being coached by one of the best in the game, and his team is committed to helping him succeed. 

Don’t be the one to sleep on Dwayne Haskins.

Brendan Taffe – Dynasty/Superflex
Ride or Dynasty
Twitter: @BCTAFFE

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