Dwayne Haskins Enters NFL with Chip on His Shoulder After Draft Slide to 15th Pick, Washington Redskins

By Dan Hope on April 26, 2019 at 8:35 am
Dwayne Haskins

The NFL – or at least, the New York Giants – decided on Thursday night that Dwayne Haskins was only the third-best quarterback in this year’s draft.

Haskins is already determined to show the Giants, and the other teams that decided not to draft him, that they made a mistake.

“To be honest, I’m more motivated now than ever,” Haskins said in an interview with ESPN’s Jen Lada after being drafted by the Washington Redskins with the No. 15 overall pick on Thursday night. “There’s a bigger chip on my shoulder. The league done messed up.”

As expected, the Arizona Cardinals selected Heisman Trophy-winning Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray with the No. 1 overall pick on Thursday night. The Cardinals had been locked in on drafting Murray for months, and Haskins wasn’t even a player they considered drafting; new Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury believes Murray is a unique and special talent, which is why they drafted him even though they had just selected a quarterback – Josh Rosen – with the No. 10 overall pick last year.

What really gave Haskins reason to feel slighted, however, was when the Giants – a team he had visions of playing for since he was a kid growing up in New Jersey – opted to select Duke quarterback Daniel Jones with the No. 6 overall pick. The Giants sent a large contingent of representatives to Ohio State’s pro day to watch Haskins throw and hosted him for a visit to their facility, yet still decided to draft Jones as their quarterback of the future instead.

As Haskins learned who the Giants were selecting over him, all he could do was shake his head, shrug his shoulders and laugh.

Going into Thursday night, many believed Washington would have to trade up for Haskins in order to have a chance to draft him, and Redskins coach Jay Gruden said in his press conference after the first round was over that they did consider making a move up to ensure they would have that opportunity. They decided to stay put with the belief that the board would fall in their favor, however, and they gambled correctly.

“He’s got all the tools to be an exceptional quarterback in pro football,” Gruden said. “We felt like we had a good chance that he would fall to us without having to give up the farm to get him, so fortunately, that move paid off.”

The Denver Broncos (who held the No. 10 overall pick), Cincinnati Bengals (No. 11) and Miami Dolphins (No. 13) were also among the teams who were considered potential candidates to draft Haskins entering Thursday night, but all of them decided to go in different directions.

Haskins will use their decisions not to draft him as fuel to try to show them that they should have.

“To be honest, I’m more motivated now than ever. There’s a bigger chip on my shoulder. The league done messed up.”– Dwayne Haskins on his fall to the 15th pick in the NFL draft

In the long run, Haskins’ slide into the middle of the first round could prove to be a blessing in disguise. Had he gone to New York, he likely would have begun his career on the bench and had to wait his turn behind incumbent starter Eli Manning. He probably would have faced a similar situation in Denver or Cincinnati if either of those teams had decided to draft him.

In Washington, however, Haskins will have a chance to compete to be the starting quarterback right away. Alex Smith’s NFL career is in jeopardy after he suffered a severe leg injury last season, and Case Keenum and Colt McCoy cannot be considered franchise quarterbacks. If Haskins demonstrates he is ready to play by September, there’s no one on the depth chart who he can’t beat out immediately.

“If you’re a 15th pick in the draft, I think you have to give him an opportunity, without a doubt,” Gruden said. “We feel good about the guys that we have in the building, for sure, but when you take a guy in the first round, at any time, you’re going to have to give him a chance to compete.”

Haskins still needs to continue developing in order to become the elite NFL quarterback that he and the Redskins believe he has the potential to be, but Haskins’ former coach at Ohio State is among those who believe the Redskins are an organization who can help get him there.

“They do a great job there,” Ryan Day said in an interview with Yahoo! Sports on Thursday night. “Coach Gruden does a really good job with the passing game. The quarterback coach there, Kevin O’Connell and I worked together in San Francisco (in 2016, when both were assistant coaches for the 49ers). He does a really good job with quarterbacks.”

The opportunity to play in Washington is personally special for Haskins because it is close to home. His family moved to Gaithersburg, Maryland, which is less than an hour from FedEx Field and from the Redskins’ team headquarters, when he was in high school, so he’ll have plenty of family and friends nearby as he begins his NFL career.

“It’s unbelievable,” Haskins said in an interview with NFL Network after being drafted. “I went to high school in this area, I feel like this area’s really special, and to think that I’m able to be a part of this for the second time, and to be able to be a leader for this franchise, for this community, I’m really excited.”

Haskins would have liked to have been selected earlier than the 15th pick, and he certainly doesn’t think the Giants made the right decision selecting Jones over him. He’ll have two opportunities a year now, though, to make them question that decision, as the Redskins and Giants are NFC East rivals.

In Haskins’ rookie season, the Redskins are scheduled to play the Giants in New York in Week 4 (Sept. 29) and at home in Week 16 (Dec. 22). They’re also scheduled to play the Dolphins in Week 6 (Oct. 13).

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