The Washington Redskins have had a rough go of it since Daniel Snyder bought the team nearly 20 years ago, but on the field there is reason to believe Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins will be a good fit for the team.
Although Jay Gruden has posted only one winning season since becoming head coach of the Redskins in 2014, Haskins won’t be the first young quarterback he’s been trusted to groom.
The Tiffin, Ohio, native arrived in Cincinnati as offensive coordinator in 2011 at the same time as Andy Dalton, a second-round pick out of TCU who became a Day 1 starter for a team that ended up surprisingly making the playoffs.
Dalton was no world-beater under Gruden, but he was productive despite not having the same physical tools as a player like Haskins.
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In Washington, Haskins will join a quarterbacks room that already included veterans Colt McCoy, Case Keenum and Alex Smith, whose recovery from a gruesome leg injury may prevent him from playing this season.
While Keenum and McCoy both have starting experience in the league, neither is likely to be so good Haskins won’t be able to see the field early if he progresses.
And if his development takes some time, the team may not feel the need to rush him, either.
“I love everything about spending time with Coach Gruden and the rest of the coaches,” Haskins told the Redskins’ in-house media team. “I think they will do great job grooming me and I look forward to studying as hard as I can and being a guy that can contribute as soon as they need me to. I’m just ready to put some work in.”
Gruden said they plan to be patient with him but also that any first-round pick should have the opportunity to play right away — if he earns it.
“We feel good about the guys we have in the building for sure but when you take a guy in the first round you have to let him compete,” Gruden told reporters in a press conference at the Washington football complex following round one. "That’s just the way football is.”
The coach, whose version of the West Coast Offense calls for the quarterback to roll out and throw on the run quite a bit, praised Haskins’ football smarts and dismissed concerns about his perceived lack of mobility.
“I think he’s a big strong guy. He can maneuver in the pocket,” Gruden said. “There’s a lot of quarterbacks that aren’t necessarily scramblers. You have to maneuver in the pocket to buy some time, and he can buy time with his size and strength. People bounce off of him. He’s a big strong kid and he has functional mobility. I’ve seen him get outside the pocket at Ohio State and make throws for touchdowns in the red zone and other areas of the field.”
Gruden also sounded impressed with the scheme Ohio State ran last season, one that has evolved under the influence of offensive coordinator-turned-head coach Ryan Day since 2017.
“I think if you look at their system this past year they really did a good job,” Gruden said. "They have a drop-back system. They have some (run-pass options). They do a lot of things NFL teams are doing, really. They do an excellent job with their drop-back passing game and he’s a big part of it.”
Motivation is not likely to be an issue for Haskins, who told ESPN, “The league done messed up” after 14 teams passed on the chance to draft him.
He is also happy to be playing near where he starred in high school at The Bullis School in Potomac, Md.
“I’m just blessed by God, blessed for my family,” he said. “I’m right down the street, so we’re going to do it right this time, so it’s crazy.”
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