Leading up to the 2019 NFL draft, which starts April 25, Yahoo Sports will count down our top 100 overall prospects. We’ll count them down 10 at a time, followed by profiles on our top 30 overall players.
Previous entries: Nos. 100-91 | 90-81 | 80-71 | 70-61 | 60-51 | 50-41 | 40-31 | 30. Drew Lock | 29. Deandre Baker | 28. Taylor Rapp | 27. Garrett Bradbury | 26. Dexter Lawrence | 25. Jerry Tillery | 24. Josh Jacobs | 23. Christian Wilkins | 22. Cody Ford | 21. Noah Fant | 20. Andre Dillard | 19. Greedy Williams
18. Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins
6-foot-3, 227 pounds
Key stat: In his one season starting, Haskins broke 28 school records and seven Big Ten records, including single-season passing yards (4,831), TD passes (50) and total offensive yards (4,939).
The skinny: Haskins relocated to the Maryland area as a prep player, and the four-star recruit initially committed to the Terrapins. But once former Maryland coach Randy Edsall was let go, Haskins reopened his recruitment and committed to Urban Meyer and Ohio State. After redshirting during the Buckeyes’ 2016 season, he stepped in as J.T. Barrett’s backup in 2017, completing 40 of 57 passes for 565 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. His relief appearance in the comeback victory over Michigan gave a taste of things to come, completing six of seven passes for 94 yards and leading two scoring drives in the 31-20 victory.
As a redshirt sophomore in 2018, Haskins had a brilliant first season as the starting QB. He won Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, was named third-team All-American and finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting. Haskins led FBS in passing yards (4,831) and threw 50 touchdown passes (becoming just the sixth FBS passer to do so) with only eight interceptions in his 14 starts.
Haskins, who turns 22 in May, declared for the 2019 NFL draft.
Upside: Physical skills to play the position are strong. Has a big, strong and sturdy build and an arm to match. Very good arm talent – can shoot the ball through tight windows and make pretty much any throw in the book. Natural thrower, even with unorthodox mechanics. Ball spins nicely and usually arrives in the right spot. Throws receivers open and seldom hangs them out to dry. Puts proper touch on when needed. Can lock and load quickly when options open. Precision and accuracy are both exceptional, especially for a one-year starter. Makes it look easy most of the time and doesn’t try to do more than what the defense gives him. Almost a surgical approach.
Mental and physical toughness. Bounced back from big hits and was ready to go. On 116 pass attempts on which he was hurried, hit or knocked down, Haskins completed a stunning 58.6 percent with only three INTs. Carries a swagger on the field and appears to be driven and motivated to be great. Has the guts to take his shots on big throws. Poise in pressure situations – wants the ball in his hands with game on the line.
Dwayne Haskins 4th qtr. stats (2018):— Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) April 1, 2019
• 71.2% comp. pct.
• 1,034 yards
• 14 TDs / 1 INTs
I enjoy seeing how QBs stacked up while facing adversity late in games. He has the “clutch gene” – high pressure moments didn’t phase him.
Borderline arrogance with his offensive knowledge and ability to grasp high-level football – impressed coaches on the whiteboard with concepts. Analytical – seeks to learn why mistakes happen and fix them. Obsessed with football and getting better. High school and college coaches almost to a man noted how vastly improved Haskins was from the time they first started working with him to the time he left.
Can use his eyes (and quality pump fake) to manipulate DBs. Adjusted to Buckeyes’ shotgun/spread-option system nicely despite not being a perfect fit and helped bring his own stamp to the offense. Reads high to low – clearly well-schooled early in his football life, and it has become a part of his DNA. Rare natural accuracy for only 14 college starts. Excellent downfield touch, placement and accuracy. Highly efficient in the red zone – 46-of-71 passing (64.8 percent) with 24-2 TD-INT ratio.
Footwork will be knocked by some, but Haskins showed improved pocket savvy as season went on. Reacts to pressure properly and can reset from different platforms. Showed he could climb the pocket and slide to avoid pressure. Stands tall in the pocket and surveys the field well. Not a true scrambler but a tough runner when needed (see Maryland game). Ability to throw on the run appeared improved by season’s end. Watch him step up and hit this great touch pass in the Big Ten title game:
Downside: Not a natural mover. Can be sluggish and heavy-footed. Throws flat-footed – looks a lot like former Jaguars QB Byron Leftwich in this way – and doesn’t generate enough lower-body torque in his throws. Lower-body mechanics might need a spin through the car wash with a patient QB coach during something of a redshirt NFL season. Poor footwork can be blamed on many of his off-target throws. Pocket rhythm needs tightening and speeding up. Still too long-levered in his delivery.
Not as effective when he’s moved off his spot. Not a great improvisational thrower yet. Limited mobility as a runner who is forced to use his mass and toughness to gain yards. Will pass up easy scrambling opportunities to try to make plays a level deeper. Ohio State ran rollouts to Haskins’ throwing side (right), but he looked awkward and clunky on the handful of rollouts and bootlegs throwing to his left. Success might depend on a pocket-based system and a 1-2-3, rhythm passing game.
Pressure got to him early in the season as he was seeing many looks and fronts for the first time. Lacks great off-script creativity. Still banking knowledge as a passer and will take time to grasp NFL protection schemes. Didn’t face a lot of top-tier defenses and barely has 1,000 career snaps to his name in college football. Will be prone to getting fooled at times, and that will multiply on the NFL level. Took too many hits and sacks while holding onto the ball, and that approach rarely works in the league. Still has a habit of taking the cheese from defenses and throwing short of the sticks on third-and-longs.
Bit of an early-down risk-taker who falls in love with his arm strength – attempts tight-window throws that will make his NFL coordinator hold his breath. Still can develop more changeup throws and tries to rifle it in there. Has a habit of staring down his targets at times and telegraphing some throws, partly because his arm strength and OSU’s incredible WR talent allowed him to have success with it. Accuracy is mostly very good, but there are times when his throws could be placed with better touch and precision to give his receivers better YAC potential.
Best-suited destination: Ideally, Haskins could land with a team that isn’t forced to start him right away and he can get a taste for charting defenses, seeing more NFL looks and completely absorbing his new system. He’d ideally land with a team that has an intermediate-passing system, and Haskins should handle a lot of playbook volume in time, but it’s not going to be instant coffee. He had three years in the Buckeyes’ system despite not starting until Year 3, and it helped him immensely.
Haskins might not have any skill that you could call elite save for his arm talent and intangibles, but those two qualities give him a chance to be great in time. Among the teams that need quarterbacks and could use a developmental project with plus-starter upside include the Cincinnati Bengals, Oakland Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers, New England Patriots, Detroit Lions, Washington Redskins, Miami Dolphins and New York Giants.
Fun fact: Before his 10th-grade season, Haskins relocated from New Jersey to Maryland (at the suggestion of one of his mentors, former NFL cornerback Shawn Springs) and earned the starting QB job that year at his new school. On his first two passes there, Haskins threw back-to-back pick-sixes. The inauspicious start was not a harbinger of things to come. Haskins became a first-team consensus all-state quarterback, leading the team to consecutive state titles.
They said it: “Probably just having experience through this season. I feel like each game I learned something new about myself, about my offense and my players around me. As the season went on, I got more experience as far as knowing situations, knowing where to go with the ball, knowing when to force passes, when to check things down, knowing when to be conservative, when to gamble. So throughout the season just got better at playing quarterback.”
— Haskins, at the combine, on what areas he most improved
Player comp: If you could blend Jared Goff and Teddy Bridgewater – and pack 15 more pounds on that mashup – you’d get Haskins.
Expected draft range: First round, but he might not be the second (or third) quarterback drafted.
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