How the Quarterback Competition in Washington Will Impact Dwayne Haskins' Career Arc

By David Regimbal on May 13, 2019 at 11:30 am
Dwayne Haskins
© Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

It didn't take long for Dwayne Haskins to prove he belongs in the NFL.

With rookie camps underway across the league, recent draftees were given the opportunity to make a first impression as a member of their respective teams over the last two weeks.

Haskins thrived, showcasing the strong arm and accuracy that helped him rewrite Ohio State's record book in 2018.

“It’s been a treat,” Washington head coach Jay Gruden said, according to John Keim of ESPN. “He’s made some throws that turn your head without a doubt.”

The former Buckeye quarterback has been so impressive that Gruden declared an open competition this offseason. Haskins has proven to be a quick study, and his new coach wants to push him to see how he stacks up against the other quarterbacks on Washington's roster.

"The most important thing in the next couple weeks is, let's see how far we can push [Haskins]. Let's see if there is a chance he can win the job," Gruden said. "If we feel like he's coming along slower, then we have to maybe push Case or push Colt. But if we feel like [Haskins] is coming along and he's firing and he's comfortable, then we'll play it out and see what happens."

Suddenly, Washington is forced with a decision — should it start Haskins right out of the gate or wait until he develops further?

There are successful cases for both possibilities.

Aaron Rodgers is arguably the league's most dangerous quarterback, but he didn't get his first start until three years after Green Bay drafted him. Then there's Patrick Mahomes, who threw for over 5,000 yards and led the NFL with 50 passing touchdowns in 2018 after sitting most of his rookie season. 

But then there are signal-callers like Indianapolis' Andrew Luck and Seattle's Russell Wilson who started every game of their rookie seasons and combined to throw for nearly 8,000 yards. The Colts and Seahawks both made the playoffs that year as well.

So what's the best route for Haskins? Would he benefit from a year on the bench to learn Washington's system, or would he learn and grow more with experience on the field?

The sit-and-learn approach worked for him at Ohio State. Slotted behind J.T. Barrett in 2017 (after redshirting in 2016), Haskins gained a masterful knowledge of Ryan Day's passing attack and took the Big Ten by storm in '18. 

That doesn't necessarily mean Washington should do the same this fall.

There's the risk that throwing Haskins into the fire too early would ruin his development and cripple his potential before he has the chance to realize it. There are more examples of that happening to promising quarterback prospects than the alternative.

But Haskins has also proven to be a quick learner, and if he's truly ready to take on the challenge, it'd be a waste to stick him on the bench in favor of guys like Colt McCoy and Case Keenum.

Gruden and Washington have to get this decision right, because it's not only Haskins' early career at stake, but the trajectory of its franchise overall. You can't win consistently or at a high level without an answer at quarterback in the NFL, and it looks like Washington has that with the 15th overall selection in this year's draft.

Regardless of what the coaching staff decides, Haskins is preparing for whatever comes his way.

"I'll be ready for whatever the coaches want from me, whether that's starting right away or next year or through the season," Haskins said. "I'll prepare like I'm the starter."

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