The NFL is still waiting for confirmation whether a small army of Alabama and Clemson underclassmen will be entering the 2019 draft, but for the most part the field is pretty much set for the upcoming draft year. And the big emerging question right now is just how good a prospect is Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins. There is a pretty solid consensus around the league that Haskins is the clear #1 prospect at the position. Just how good, though, will go a long ways to determine to a large degree how the early picks at the upcoming draft shake out.
And while there is still an awfully lot of sorting out to be done before the picks actually start coming off the board on April 25th, there is an emerging buzz that while Haskins is not in the Andrew Luck category, he is in fact still a pretty good prospect with at least top 5 potential, but also with enough upside to be very much in play for the #1 pick overall. Indeed, we’ve had more than one scout tell us that in all likelihood had Haskins been in the 2018 draft he would have been the first player selected “hands down”. On the other hand, it is not as clear that Haskins would necessarily be quite as highly rated if he had stuck around for another year and entered what is shaping up to be a very QB rich draft in 2020, but he was still going to be a top 5-10 type whichever draft he ultimately entered.
That sentiment also shows up in recent reviews of Haskins’ potential by leading draft analysts. The Miami Herald, for example, polled some of the top analysts in an article this week and the results were uniformialy pretty positive. ESPN’s Mel Kiper, for example, said of Haskins: “at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, he can make every throw. He has an effortless and compact release, and that shows when he’s launching balls across the field on out routes, and when he’s hitting receivers in stride on go routes. He’s accurate, shows great anticipation on throws and takes care of the ball. He also shows poise and never gets rattled. He loves the spotlight and craves pressure. The high ceiling is there, and that’s what NFL teams want.” Meanwhile, Todd McShay, another ESPN analyst was quoted as saying: “Based solely on his physical tools, the bar is really high for the Ohio State starter despite a limited college career. Haskins anticipates well, and he has touch on shorter throws and the high-level arm to drive the ball down the field with accuracy. The numbers were eye-popping for the third-year sophomore,” while Bucky Brooks of NFL.com said of Haskins that he: “exhibits all of the traits coaches and scouts covet in a franchise quarterback. Haskins is a classic pocket passer with A-plus arm talent. He is one of the few quarterbacks capable of making every throw in the book from the pocket with power, touch or finesse.” In fact, the only questions regarding Haskins appear to be that as a one-starter he has limited experience, while he also isn’t as athletic as some of the other top college QBs these and will never make much happen with his legs.
Of course, a whole lot can change over the course of the next 3-4 months as we go through the combine, pro days and private team workouts. Haskins, for example, could struggle, especially in the off-field interviews. It is also possible that one or more of this year’s other top QBs like Daniel Jones of Duke, Missouri’s Drew Lock or Will Grier of West Virginia could also elevate into the top ten area. However, if the status quo holds with Haskins as the only true top 5 type QB in the 2019 draft, it could very well set of an intriguing bidding war among teams looking for their QB of the future.
One of the very odd realities of the 2019 draft is that each of the teams with top 5 picks – Arizona, San Francisco, the NY Jets, Oakland and Tampa Bay – all have young QBs and would not figure to be interested in a player like Haskins. The one exception might be Oakland if the Raiders decided to move on from Derek Carr, although there isn’t much evidence that that is where their thinking is these days. In fact, it is only teams picking outside the top 5 – the Giants at #6, Jacksonville at #7, Denver at #10, Cincinnati at #11 and Miami at #13 – that have major issues at QB and any of those teams interested in Haskins will almost assuredly have to trade up – likely way up – in order to win a bidding battle to get him if conditions on the ground hold as they are. And nobody in the league is likely to be happier about that than the folks in Arizona. The Cardinals, who hold the #1 pick this year, have made it pretty clear that their only real priority this off-season is upgrading the offensive line. Trouble is it doesn’t appear that there are any OL worth a top 5 pick so moving down makes eminent sense to the Cardinals.
Of course, any or all of those QB-needy teams could opt to wait for the 2020 draft which looks like it could have more options at QB including the likes of Justin Herbert of Oregon, Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, Jake Fromm of Georgia and Jacob Eason of Washington. However, those guys all look like potential elite prospects who aren’t going to last much past the first 5 or so picks so unless those QB-needy teams tank next fall, they could be looking at having to trade up anyway. Decisions, decisions, decisions!! Stay tuned!!