The first part of Dwayne Haskins’ pro football career comes to an end Thursday night with the NFL Draft.
Soon enough, the Ohio State quarterback will get the chance to prove he can play in the NFL.
The big question between now and then is where that will happen.
New York? Denver? Washington?
Maybe even Cincinnati?
Those are all options draft gurus have thrown out over the past few months, and one might even turn out to be correct.
A mystery team is probably as likely to join the fray, too, but Haskins did not seem too concerned at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in March.
Nor did the prospect of Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray being drafted before him.
“I have to worry about me,” Haskins said. “I’m going to do what I need to do in meetings and out on the field to showcase my talents. I know I’m a franchise quarterback and can be a really great quarterback in the NFL.”
During the pre-draft media tour that has become routine for prospects, Haskins maintained his poker face despite Murray dominating most of the headlines since that day in March.
He will make the best of it wherever he lands, and he intends to make that team look smart with his ability to pick defenses apart the old-fashioned way — from the pocket.
While the 5-foot-10, 200-some pound Murray has been linked to the Arizona Cardinals (who have the No. 1 pick) because his history operating an “Air Raid” offense like the one new coach Kliff Kingsbury figures to install in the desert, Haskins could seemingly fit anywhere else.
Strong-armed quarterbacks who stand 6-3 and weigh 231 pounds will always have a place in the NFL no matter how the game evolves, right?
He put up video game numbers at Ohio State, breaking Big Ten records with 4,831 yards passing and 50 touchdowns while displaying impressive accuracy to go with the ability to zip the ball into tight spaces and lob rainbows over the top of the defense.
But is that enough for NFL personnel departments to hitch their franchise’s wagon to him?
“I think when you look at what he did in one year it is tremendous,” head coach Ryan Day said earlier this month. “Any time you have a quarterback like that you are looking for what is his extraordinary skill, what is it that makes him different, all of the great ones have that.
“I think his thing is his accuracy and his ability to see the field. He sees the field really, really well. The ball is always kind of in the right spot.”
It turns out the biggest question mark with Haskins is less his film but merely the simple fact there is not more of it.
“When you look at what you have with Dwayne, the one-year thing is one part of it,” NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah, a former college quarterback team scout himself, told reporters on a conference call last week.
There are also questions about Haskins’ mobility, though he worked to answer those with a Pro Day workout at Ohio State that featured numerous throws on the run.
“Is he going to be able to create time, is he going to be able to move around and get away from pressure?” Jeremiah continued. “Nine times out of 10 if you’re getting picked in the top 10, you’re on a team that’s not great up front and you’re going to have to be able to protect yourself and get away from some pressure, and that’s the concern with him.”
Of course, Jeremiah found a lot to like, too. “He’s a firm, sturdy guy,” Jeremiah said. “I think he’ll be able to hold up physically the way he’s built. He can drive the ball. He can layer the ball.
“You look at the progression of him from the beginning of the year to the end of the year, I mean, it’s a clear trend line that he’s going in the right direction. And I would even add on to that the Pro Day, which was outstanding. He moved around a little bit better in that Pro Day than I anticipated, so that helps him. It’s just a matter of finding a home for him.”