Can Dwayne Haskins Play His Way into the 2019 NFL Draft?

By David Regimbal on September 6, 2018 at 1:45 pm
Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins
Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Dwayne Haskins' NFL audition may only last five months.

That scenario is far from guaranteed, of course, but after carving up Oregon State for 313 passing yards and five touchdowns, the possibility seems more likely than it did this time last week.

Haskins has just about everything NFL scouts look for in a potential franchise quarterback. Big arm? Check. Mental makeup? Check. Awareness on and off the field? Check and check.


That's where the redshirt sophomore comes up short, but during his brief moments in the spotlight, he's showcased a skill set that could gradually minimize any concern about his lack of experience.

Haskins was surgical against the Beavers, connecting on his first nine throws before a well-placed deep ball to Parris Campbell hit the turf. He completed 73.3 percent of his passes in total, a mark usually hit by quarterbacks who dink-and-dunk their way down the field. That wasn't the case on Saturday, as the Maryland product stretched the field vertically early and often.

It was the array of throws that was most impressive. The cannon was on full display, but when finesse and touch were needed — like the six-yard dump off to Rashod Berry that put Ohio State up 21-7 — Haskins threw catchable ball after catchable ball.

It was a record-setting day for Haskins, who set new school benchmarks for passing yards and touchdowns for a first-time starting quarterback.

His performance turned heads nationally as well — the Buckeye quarterback is now third on the list of Heisman Trophy favorites behind Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa and West Virginia's Will Grier.

If he continues to look this good when the competition stiffens, Haskins will make a similar climb up draft boards.

NFL draft expert Matt Miller released a preseason mock draft that had five teams — the Miami Dolphins, Washington Redskins, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Chargers and the New England Patriots — selecting a quarterback in the first round.

Haskins wasn't one of the projected selections. Miller's top-ranked quarterbacks are Oregon's Justin Herbert, Auburn's Jarrett Stidham, North Carolina State's Ryan Finley, Missouri's Drew Lock and South Carolina's Jake Bentley. But after getting his first long look at Haskins, Miller liked what he saw.

The third-year sophomore will be eligible for the NFL draft at season's end. It's not common for first-year starters to make that leap — the notable recent exception came two years ago when Mentor, Ohio native and former North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky was selected No. 2 overall by the Chicago Bears.

With how high Haskins' ceiling is, it's safe to assume he wouldn't make the move unless he solidified his status as a first-round lock this fall. If he slumps, it'd be far more beneficial for him to return and refine his skills, because he has the tools and size that NFL teams would be happy to invest in with a first-round pick.

But Haskins will get plenty of opportunities to showcase his abilities, because the Ohio State offense is molding itself to capitalize on his big arm.

“I feel like we can do a little bit more in the passing game with Dwayne, because of the type of quarterback he is,” wide receiver K.J. Hill said earlier this week. “So I feel like we probably are more likely going to throw it more than last year.”

Terry McLaurin, who hauled in two of Haskins' five touchdowns last Saturday, added to that, saying his quarterback didn't show the jitters you'd expect from a first-time starter.

“[Haskins] wasn’t nervous, he didn’t show any sense of edginess." McLaurin said. "He just came in this game ready to make plays, and he told us on the outside, ‘Just be ready. The ball could come to you at any time.’"

And if Haskins continues to carve defenses up like he did last Saturday, Buckeye fans may have to tune in on Sundays next year to catch him in action.

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