INDIANAPOLIS – While Dwayne Haskins’ podium drew a large contingent of reporters during his media availability at the NFL Scouting Combine on Friday, no one attracted a bigger crowd than Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray.
Murray has been the most-talked-about prospect in Indianapolis this week – and for that matter, the most-talked-about prospect in the 2019 NFL draft since he announced he would enter it in January – and the Heisman Trophy winner is increasingly being buzzed about as a candidate to potentially be the top quarterback in the draft.
Haskins, however, isn’t worried about that. The Ohio State quarterback believes he should be the top quarterback in the draft, but he knows his focus need not be on how he stacks up against Murray, but simply how he puts his best foot forward.
“I’m not worried about Kyler,” Haskins said. “I got to worry about me. I’m going to do what I need to do in meetings and out on the field tomorrow to showcase my talents. I know I’m a franchise quarterback, and can be a really great quarterback in the NFL.”
Haskins will have an opportunity to make his case for being the draft’s top quarterback on Saturday, when he will throw and participate in drills alongside the other quarterbacks in Indianapolis. Murray, on the other hand, confirmed Friday that he will not participate in any drills at the combine, choosing to wait until his pro day instead.
Whether Haskins ends up being the No. 1 quarterback selected isn’t his primary concern, though, because he already has his sights set on bigger goals.
“It’s not that important to me,” Haskins said when asked how important it was to him to be the first quarterback drafted. "For me it’s being with the right franchise, being with the right team and winning a Super Bowl. So whether that’s the first quarterback taken, second quarterback taken, it’s all a blessing regardless of where I’m going or what the pick is.”
Receivers looking to run fast
Parris Campbell hasn’t been shy about expressing his belief in himself and his elite speed.
When NFL.com left Campbell off a list of college football’s fastest players last summer, Campbell and the Ohio State social media department put together a video response. In an interview with Eleven Warriors in January, Campbell said he believed he is the fastest player in the 2019 NFL draft.
So when Campbell runs the 40-yard dash at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday, he will be doing so with full confidence that he will run one of the combine’s fastest times.
“I can guarantee a fast time for myself,” Campbell said Friday. “I know I'm a fast runner. That's one of my attributes. Just got to be critical about my details and my start. Drive, phase, finish. I'm extremely confident in myself for sure."
Campbell isn’t the only Ohio State wide receiver who expects to run fast on Saturday. Terry McLaurin is also looking to prove that he has elite speed, and says he will be competing with Ohio State’s other speedsters – including fellow wide receiver Johnnie Dixon and cornerback Kendall Sheffield – to try to run the fastest 40.
“I want to beat Parris. He wants to beat me. Kendall wants to be the fastest. Johnnie wants to be the fastest,” McLaurin said. “It’s going to be closer than people expect.”
Dixon didn’t hesitate when he was asked Friday which Ohio State receiver he thought would run the fastest 40, deferring to Campbell (who he trained for the combine with at EXOS in Arizona), but said he does expect the times to be close between Campbell and Sheffield.
“That’s going to be a good race,” Dixon said. “I haven’t seen Kendall’s training, but I’ve seen Parris’ training, and he’s been lighting it up.”
While there will likely be even faster times to come on Saturday (and Monday when Sheffield runs), running back Mike Weber set a solid bar for Ohio State prospects on Friday, when he completed the 40-yard dash in 4.47 seconds, tied for third-fastest among all running backs. Weber also tied for the fastest 10-yard split among running backs, 1.48 seconds, according to Rotoworld’s Josh Norris.
Clean bill of health
While he has been figuratively overshadowed as a draft prospect by Haskins and Ohio State’s other wide receivers in the weeks leading up to the combine, Dixon was literally overshadowed by Haskins on Friday.
While Haskins answered questions from the aforementioned large crowd at the main podium, Dixon shared a table in the nearby corner of the interview room with another draft prospect (Wake Forest wide receiver Greg Dortch).
Unlike Haskins and many of Ohio State’s other draft prospects, Dixon isn’t projected to be an early-round pick, and he’s not even a sure bet to be drafted. But Dixon said the lack of attention leading up to the draft isn’t bothering him.
That’s because Dixon is just happy that he even has the chance to participate in the combine and potentially play in the NFL.
“A couple years ago I wouldn’t have been in this position, so I just go out and do what I can do,” Dixon said.
Dixon was sidelined for most of the first three years of his Ohio State career, including a redshirt year, as he battled tendinitis in his knees. So as he arrived this week at the combine – an event that was actually originally created for the purpose of congregating draft prospects together for medical testing – one of the biggest questions was whether combine doctors would find anything that would raise red flags about his knees and their long-term durability.
After going through the medical examinations portion of the combine on Thursday, though, Dixon said he was fully cleared and did not receive any negative feedback or many questions from NFL teams about his knees.
“Medicals yesterday went perfect for me,” Dixon said. “Of course, there’s always little things that they may see, but everybody cleared me, so that was good.”
Dixon thought about quitting football after those first three injury-plagued years at Ohio State, but he finally got healthy for his final two seasons with the Buckeyes, catching 60 passes for 1,091 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Now, he hopes that will show to NFL teams his ability to overcome adversity, and convince someone to take a chance on him.
“When I came back, I didn’t even feel 100 percent healthy. I was just giving it a second chance, going out there and swinging as hard as I can,” Dixon said. “And it landed me here. So I’m blessed to be able to do that and be here.”