A Slow Man's Defense of Dwayne Haskins, the Best Quarterback in the 2019 NFL Draft

By Johnny Ginter on March 8, 2019 at 8:35 am
Former Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins

I'm not sure what being slow actually means anymore.

As with many other things in my life, sports has pretty much ruined my ability to see life through a subjective lens. If a person attempting to run real fast isn't literally Usain Bolt or if a person trying to swim real good isn't Katie Ledecky, then my gila monster brain assumes that they must suck at whatever athletic feat they're involved in.

That is maybe my favorite play by an Ohio State quarterback of all time, but if I'm being truthful, it's in part because my dumb ass laughs out loud at how absurd J.T. Barrett looks as he "outruns" the entire Minnesota Golden Gopher defensive secondary.

"Haw haw haw I'm way faster than those chumps!" I lie to myself while watching an 86 yard touchdown run, and I think this nonsense because a) I'm insecure, b) I have an inflated sense of my own athletic ability, but mostly c) as a fan of college football I've somehow conditioned myself to expect Actual Braxton Miller to be the base level of athletic ability that quarterbacks should have.

Which is unfair to Dwayne Haskins, a man who is slow.

I said slow!

5.04 40 yard dash slow, the be exact, which is "NFL slow" but not "people who live in the real world slow." That kind of slow doesn't even finish the 40, and instead quits halfway through to go get some Jimmy John's.

Haskins also threw for like 4800 yards and 50 touchdowns during the 2018 Ohio State football season, which you'd think would be the topic du jour but since he also ran for negative eleventy billion yards (I'm kidding, that'd be impossible. The real number is 108), the shine is somewhat off the apple. But what I'm getting at here is that no one besides professional sports opinion-haver Stephen A. Smith should care about how fast Dwayne Haskins can run 40 yards in a straight line, something that he will never do for the rest of his natural life unless he's getting chased by a bear or maybe an aggressive goose.

And yet, people do care. A lot!

Former Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins finished the 40 with a super-slow time. And then the excuse-making began.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Haskins was “battling leg cramps prior to running.” Rapoport adds that Haskins had been timed in the 4.8s while training for the Combine, and that Haskins will run the 40 again at his Pro Day workout.

Officially, Haskins ran the 40 in 5.04 seconds on Saturday in Indianapolis.

I’m not going to say that Rapoport’s source isn’t telling the truth, but there’s definitely a motivation to embellish in these situations. Also, if Haskins truly had leg cramps before running, why run? Why not say instead, “I’ve got leg cramps”?

Or better yet, Mike Florio, why not just say: "Hell yeah I run like a grocery store cart with a missing wheel, it's hilarious."

Of course, Haskins can't do that. During the NFL combine he was locked in imaginary combat against a preconceived of what a Modern Quarterback looks like, the success of Baker Mayfield, and Kyler Murray suddenly becoming A Thing for the Arizona Cardinals, which holds the first pick of the draft.

And hell, good for that dude. Murray had an incredible 2018 season and I was not one bit upset to see the guy end up with the Heisman. I'm sure that coaching legend Kliff Kingsbury, should he decide to go that route, will get a great player and one that will fit the offense that he's trying to run. If this was about which player is going to be a better NFL pro, I wouldn't even bother writing this article because as far as I'm concerned it's pretty much a coin flip once players leave college anyway.

But as a very slow man myself, I can't leave this one be.

Dwayne and I share a somewhat similar build; though slightly shorter and somewhat lighter than Haskins, I too know the acute pain of being considered fast by outside observers based on my long legs and literally no other physical evidence. I ran the mile in 7th grade track and somewhere around lap 3 my coaches were telling me that maybe walking would help me finish the race faster.

I don't even know what the physical mechanics of "running fast" even look or feel like, because I'm fairly certain I've never actually appeared to be doing that in the eyes of anyone paying attention. Luckily I'm old now, and no one expects me to move at any more than a snail's pace, but 10 or 15 years ago my max velocity of "tricycle with a flat tire" would've been kind of embarrassing.

The difference between me and Haskins (other than the freakish athletic ability and I guess literally everything else about us), is that Dwayne is a great quarterback. He doesn't need to run a 4.5 40 because that's not his game, even if various outlets raised their eyes at his time as if it really matters in any tangible way.

It's part of a weird song and dance routine where NFL organizations and media outlets spend the months before the draft validating all of our internal biases against players we know are great, and it bothers me that I'm so vulnerable to the noise.

Because, yeah, dammit, I wanted to see Dwayne Haskins run more last season. I wanted to see from him what we occasionally saw from Cardale and what we often saw from J.T. Barrett: a runaway golf cart hilariously careening down the sidelines for 30-40 yards. I love that Minnesota run for the sheer absurdity of it, but truth be told, I started to believe that that's what a quarterback is supposed to look like.

It's not. Quarterbacks can look like whatever they want to. If running like a blindfolded ostrich on stilts is the tradeoff for 50 touchdowns, then sign me the hell up.

Apparently Slow Athlete Dwayne Haskins is about to make a ton of money in the NFL, as he should. But I also hope that he's given the leeway to be his own quarterback with the Giants or wherever else he ends up, and not forced to fit the speedy ideal that an incredibly fickle NFL might want him to be.

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