Giants in the Draft: Dwayne Haskins
In the spirit of transparency, I am not a huge college football guy. I love the sport, and enjoy watching it when I catch a good game, but I think having never grown up supporting a specific team drains some of the passion out of me that could be found in a true college football fan.
That said, I haven’t been under a rock the past four months, and am very familiar with Ohio State QB, Dwayne Haskins. Haskins finished third in the Heisman voting in 2018 en route to putting together what might be the greatest season ever by an Ohio State QB. The 50 TD 8 INT stat line is remarkable, and speaks for itself in terms of the year that he had, but the success Haskins had in 2018 goes deeper than that.
The New Jersey native now holds the Ohio State school record for single season passing yards, touchdowns, and completions — along with single game records for passing yards, completions, and attempts. With just one season as the starter for the Buckeyes, Haskins climbed all the way to 12th on the schools all-time passing yards list, as his 4,831 Passing Yards eclipsed just over half of what J.T. Barrett was able to collect as a 4-year starter in the program.
However, this isn’t our first rodeo. We’ve seen guys go from being elite college quarterbacks to crumby pros more times than we’ve seen the opposite, so what can the Giants, and other NFL teams expect out of Haskins?
IN THE POCKET
This might have been the most recognizable pro quality that Haskins displayed at the college level. Like most collegiate offenses, Ohio State made it easy for Haskins to become familiar in the pocket by setting him up in a spread/shotgun scheme that included tons of motioning and RPO’s (run-pass options). Further, the game appeared to slow down for Haskins when he stood in the pocket. I don’t love projecting a QB based on his size, but Haskins took advantage of his 6'3" 220lbs frame by maintaining a steady base in the pocket and allowing his eyes to remain down the field while he sought out his target at OSU.
Still, Giants fans know all too well that being a statue in the backfield doesn’t work the way it once did. Haskins checks that box too, and without being a quarterback you have to worry about taking hits. His game primarily resides within the “tackle box”, but Haskins proved in 2018 that he was both comfortable and confident throwing the ball outside the pocket and on the run. Running the ball isn’t really something the Giants would need to build into their playbook for him, but there is marginal scrambling ability to be concerned with when game planning for this kid.
Overall, Haskins style of play shouldn’t need to be reeled in at the next level, (which coaches will find convenient) but he does possess the athleticism to get creative when the moment calls for it.
ATHLETICISM AND MOBILITY
Like I said before, Haskins possess all the tools you need to survive as a mobile quarterback in the NFL. We’re not talking about Michael Vick, Lamar Jackson, or even Josh Allen here; but Dwayne Haskins could have a play style the resembles that of the Cowboy’s Dak Prescott.
In the end, this is probably better for the Giants. Their offense has been so bland towards the tail end of the Manning tenure that I don’t image they would even maximize the ability of a player as athletic as Lamar Jackson. There were some improvements in play calling on the back end of the 2018 season, but a 38-year-old Eli Manning doesn’t posses the physical tools to really tap into how diverse the Giants offense could be with Pat Shurmer scheming for Odell Beckham Evan Engam, and Saquon Barkley.
Put simply, Haskins does.
Although projections based on results have declined in popularity, the numbers do not lie with Dwayne Haskins. The BIG 10 isn’t the SEC, but Haskins was still able to pick apart some strong defenses over the course of the 2018 campaign, and no game left a more profound impression than his 396 Yard 6 TD performance against the then top-ranked Michigan defense.
Still, there is a lot that goes in to projecting accuracy, with language and nuance that I cannot claim to be an expert on. All I can claim to know is what I see, and with Haskins, I feel that some accuracy problems might have been able to hide during his tenure at OSU. He completed 70% of his passes in 2018, better than Sam Darnold in either of his two seasons at USC, but the offense around Haskins looked very explosive and well schemed.
You might be thinking, “no shit, this is Ohio State they’re just better than everyone else,” and that might be true. My point is that turnovers might become a problem fans don’t see coming when the playing field evens out. His 8 INTs are tantalizing for a college prospect, but after watching the tape, I felt there were plenty of times were Haskins was throwing into tons of space, or getting lucky on a ball that appeared to be interceptable.
Then there’s his throwing motion, which at a quick glance, reminded me of Nick Foles. I know, not exactly the sexiest comp, but Foles does a lot of things well in his delivery that make him an effective passer. Like I mentioned when talking about him in the pocket, Haskins stays tall when looking downfield— and like Foles — has a very quick trigger. Haskins (like Foles) also creates good upward tilt on the ball, which allows him to drop the ball in behind the defense, thereby enabling him to become one of the better deep-ball throwers in the country.
No matter where he lands, I think the speed of NFL defenses might catch up to Haskins in his rookie season, which will lead to a potentially surprising spike in his turnovers — but I guess predicting a rookie QB to turn the ball over isn’t really a hot take.
QB “IT” FACTOR
In there, somewhere
It says a lot about Dwayne Haskins to assume a position of leadership like QB1 at a school like Ohio State and have the season he had. I could make guesses about his character based on the patience he exhibited sitting behind J.T. Barrett for a season, or that he was able to lead this team as third-year guy without a serious resume under his belt.
Instead, I’d like to make it more about his game. Actions speak louder than words, everyone knows it, and Haskins’ actions on the field spoke volumes to me about what kind of impact he’ll have on his next team.
After taking a closer look at Haskins in-game, what stands out is that he is both fearless and collected. He isn’t Kyler Murray, who made some ridiculous and all-over-the-place plays this year by scrambling out of trouble while using his athletic instinct to make plays downfield (which were awesome). No, what Haskins displayed was a control factor in the offense. He wasn’t Peyton Manning, but Haskins moved through his progressions with ease, striking quick and with conviction when he made a decision. One might consider him a risky thrower, a Darnold-type who is eager to make the perfect pass downfield, but I think that kind of QB can have a lot of success throwing to the weapons the Giants possess.
Those same weapons: Odell Beckham, Saquon Barkley, and Sterling Shepard have all become vocal leaders on this Giants team. While the dynamic would change if the Giants were to bring in a young quarterback like Haskins, having that existing locker room presence will help keep all of the limelight off the rook, and allow him to focus on becoming a better player.
Overall, I like Haskins for the Giants. Did I think he was the best QB in college football this season? Do I think he’s a lock to be the best QB in this class? No and no, but there are too many question marks with Eli Manning to let someone like Haskins fall past 6.
If I were the GM of the Giants, Haskins would be atop my draft board at the start of the offseason, but something tells me the Giants are looking at this situation very differently.