Preview: The National Quarterback Landscape and Where Dwayne Haskins Could Fit in As a First-Year Starter

By Andrew Ellis on July 15, 2018 at 8:30 am
Could Dwayne Haskins be one of America's best as a first-year starter?

A year ago the college football quarterback landscape was exceptional. Names like Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield, and Lamar Jackson were the hot commodities and NFL franchises were also salivating over the future of Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen. 

We are just about six weeks away from the start of the 2018 season, and it's a much different outlook at the position as the bulk of last year's top signal-callers have moved onto the National Football League. A new crop of talent will certainly emerge this fall, but it's tough to get too excited about the position when a player like Missouri quarterback Drew Lock is being mentioned as the potential No. 1 pick of the 2019 NFL Draft.  

The quarterback situation in Columbus has also gone through a major overhaul. Despite his prolific numbers, J.T. Barrett was rarely mentioned in the same category as someone like Mayfield or Jackson. A lot of that was certainly due to his limitations as a passer, but it's tough to knock someone who went 38-6 while breaking a number of school records.

And now, with all of the team's receivers back and Joe Burrow down in Baton Rouge, Dwayne Haskins officially takes the reins of the Ohio State offense. As crazy as it may sound, there's already been rumblings of a potential one-and-done season. It's too early to really get into that, but there's no question that Haskins has the size and arm strength that NFL scouts covet. 

In what's expected to be a bit of a down year nationally at the position, could the redshirt sophomore quickly catapult himself into the elite quarterback tier? 

CBS Sports (and our old friend Dennis Dodd) just released a list of college football's top signal-callers heading into the 2018 campaign. Names like Drew Lock, Auburn's Jarrett Stidham, West Virginia's Will Grier, and Washington's Jake Browning all made the cut. As we sit here in mid-July it's anyone's guess as to what transpires between late August and January, but this year's crop at the position certainly doesn't look as imposing – at least on paper – as what we've seen in years past.

Within the Big Ten, Penn State's Trace McSorley will be a hot name again this season, but he's not likely to be someone we hear a lot about when it comes to the NFL Draft. The Nittany Lion quarterback is heading into his final season in State College, but at just about 6-foot tall, we probably won't hear Mel Kiper and Todd McShay talking him up too much.

Penn State also will be without Saquon Barkley, DaeSean Hamilton, and former offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead, so that will be an interesting situation to watch as a lot will probably be on McSorley's shoulders this fall.

Heisman Trophy frontrunner Shea Patterson arrives in Ann Arbor with all kinds of fanfare, but who knows if the Wolverine offense will be anything close to a formidable unit in 2018. In all seriousness, Patterson was at least competent at Ole Miss and Michigan does have a handful of talented pass-catchers that he can work with.

Out of all the names being tossed around among the nation's elite, I'd probably give the nod to Will Grier at the moment. West Virginia's offense is fun to watch – also the conference hates playing defense – and Grier put up some ridiculous numbers a season ago. In terms of a Heisman campaign, the Mountaineers will obviously need to win plenty of games (certainly more than the seven from a year ago), but the Big 12 should be a bit more open this year with no Mayfield in Norman. 

Oregon's Justin Herbert is 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds, which sounds the exact opposite of what I expect to see for the Ducks. Some sites are projecting him to go as high as No. 2 in the 2019 NFL Draft, but at this point he's really not yet a household name. 

Right now Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa has the best Heisman odds out of all quarterbacks despite Nick Saban having not yet named a starter. Fromm, Grier, Arizona's Khalil Tate, and yes even Shea Patterson are also listed behind Stanford tailback Bryce Love – the current frontrunner. 

All in all, there really just isn't a whole lot out there at quarterback when compared to some recent years. Again, we're still a month away from the season kicking off and there are always players that burst onto the scene, but the national outlook is fairly bleak at the position. 

The Dwayne Haskins Era is set to get underway on Sept. 1 when Ohio State hosts Oregon State. I think most expect the Buckeyes to rely heavily on what should be one of the country's top rushing attacks, but Haskins showed last season that he's not afraid to sling it and is more than capable of improvising with his legs when necessary.

With the way things are looking from a national perspective and with a plethora of weapons at his disposal, it would hardly be a surprise if Dwayne Haskins quickly moves into the spotlight as one of the country's top quarterbacks—even as a first-year starter.

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