Scouting Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins as part of our Draft Prospects for the 2019 NFL Draft.
Dwayne Haskins – QB
Ohio State University – Sophomore
Career Passing Stats: 5396 Yards/54 TDs/9 INTs
Career Rushing Stats: 194 Yards/4 TDs
A sparkling 2018 season propelled Dwayne Haskins to the front of the Heisman race and the top of many draft boards. Despite being in his first year as a starter, Haskins directed an Ohio State offense that ranked sixth in the nation in scoring and second in the nation in yards per game. His 50 touchdown passes are an Ohio State record and rank fourth on the NCAA’s all-time single season list.
Statistical dominance aside, I believe there are some questions about how he will transition to the NFL. Haskins has a tremendous feel for the short and intermediate throws but he struggles at times to push the ball downfield. His Average Depth of Completion (this metric is similar to Air Yards but for a QB – I measure how far the throw travels from the LOS before it is caught) in certain games is alarmingly low.
In looking at film, I charted every throw Haskins made over four games: Penn State, TCU, Michigan, and Washington. The Penn State game was particularly concerning: Of his 22 completions, eight came behind the line of scrimmage. Haskins completed only one pass that traveled more than 10 yards. His ADC in that game was a minuscule 1.62 yards.
Against Michigan his ADC jumped up to 5.45 yards and he had more success going downfield. He hit on two passes of 24 yards (one for a touchdown) and another 31-yard touchdown so it is possible Penn State was an outlier. With only 14 starts its hard to quantify such a small sample size and come to a definitive conclusion so let’s take a look and see where Haskins grades out.
Arm Talent: B
Haskins played in a college system relying heavily on screen passes to wide receivers and running backs with many of his throws coming behind the line of scrimmage. Here we see a tunnel screen to Parris Campbell:
Good work by Haskins on a concept becoming more popular in the NFL. Its a tougher play design than it looks but a staple of Ohio State’s playbook.
Haskins gives himself plenty of space while looking to the opposite side of the formation. His eyes move the inside linebacker (#30 – he is in pursuit at the end of the play) on that side of the formation just enough to keep him from being in position to make a tackle. The result is a 43-yard touchdown instead of a 15-yard gain.
This is a mesh concept to Campbell:
Easy pitch and catch here. Minimal pressure though Haskins does read the outside linebacker blitz and climbs the pocket a bit. Campbell gets free as his man gets caught in the wash over the middle. Walk-in touchdown.
Those two plays showcase Haskins’s ability to make intermediate throws. In terms of pure arm strength, he isn’t in the same league as Drew Lock or Kyler Murray but he doesn’t need to be. If he can consistently keep defenses honest on deep throws, his short and intermediate game will play up.
Decision Making/Accuracy: B+
Although he was in his first year as a starter, Haskins took care of the football finishing the season with just eight interceptions and a 70% completion percentage. When given a clean pocket there may not be a better quarterback in this draft. Pro Football Focus credits him with a 134.5 rating when clean.
Haskins showed remarkable consistency for a quarterback in his first year as a starter. In my mind, this is why he has the potential the be the best quarterback in this class. Here is a nice deep shot play with perfect protection – drops it right in the bucket:
Haskins makes this look routine and with a clean pocket you will see him make this throw every time. For a first-year starter, he has veteran touch.
However, as good as he is in a clean pocket, when the pocket gets muddy he struggles. Penn State got him off his spot all game and when things broke down, he responded poorly:
Pressure comes up the middle and as a result Haskins is forced out of the pocket. He has a chance to run and pick up a few yards but instead throws across his body into a crowd of defenders. Fortunately the pass isn’t picked off.
Here is an interception against Oregon State where he again faces pressure from the inside:
Haskins doesn’t slide the pocket and badly overthrows his receiver. This is a trouble spot for him because with better pocket presence this is potentially a touchdown.
Per PFF his completion percentage under pressure falls all the way to 56%. What separates the top QBs in the NFL from everyone else is their ability to function in the face of pressure.
While I have zero doubts about Haskins when given the time to throw, NFL defenses are going to test him early and often. He will see blitzes and exotic pressure and will need to adjust to fulfill his lofty potential.
Haskins is very much a pocket passer, a deviation from some of the more mobile quarterbacks Ohio State deployed in years past. He topped 10 yards rushing just three times in 14 games. However, against Maryland he tallied 59 yards on 15 carries. Haskins made a couple nice plays where the pocket broke down and he was able to make something happen:
Here is a great read near the goal line. Defense gets sucked in on the read option and Haskins is able to make a reasonably athletic play for the touchdown:
It is concerning he couldn’t beat the defender to the goaline but he makes a good football play for the score. He reminds me of Jameis Winston in this regard. Athletic enough to make plays but not a true dual threat quarterback.
For comparison sake, Winston ran a 4.97 in 2015. If Haskins chooses to run next week in Indianapolis I will be interested to see if he is in the sub-5.0 range or not. If he is, some questions regarding his athleticism and ability to extend a play will be answered.
For a sophomore with just 14 starts, Haskins was as clutch a quarterback as there is in this class. Against Penn State he led a game-winning drive that began at Ohio State’s 4-yard line. The Buckeyes covered the 96 yards in 8 plays with Haskins throwing for 73 yards and a touchdown.
Against Maryland, he led the Buckeyes on a last minute 50-yard drive to send the game into overtime. Haskins was responsible for all 50 yards and he threw the game-tying touchdown to Binjimen Victor with just 40-seconds left in regulation.
Over the final three games of the season when the stakes were highest, he carved up Michigan, Northwestern, and Washington to the tune of 1146/14/1. His single-season performance is one of the best in NCAA history for production and efficiency.
A lot of things point to the idea he has yet to scrape the surface of his potential. He must work on his deep ball accuracy and his play under pressure in the pocket. The best NFL quarterbacks are strong in these two areas. How he is able to make improvements in these areas will determine his success. But in terms of leadership and being clutch in the late stages of games, Haskins checks the box.
Final Grade: B-
Given the dearth of quality quarterback prospects in this year’s draft, Haskins might be the first quarterback taken. His numbers and record last year as a starter speak for themselves. From a clean pocket he looks like an All-Pro. I can see where those who are highest on him find it difficult to poke holes in his game based on those factors.
My concerns are in his ability to throw the deep ball with consistent accuracy and how he reacts when under pressure. He won’t be successful in the NFL throwing 2 yards behind the line of scrimmage so he will have to prove he can throw the ball 20-yards and beyond.
Blitz packages in the NFL will be significantly more complex than the ones he faced in the Big 10. His numbers drop considerably when he faces pressure so how will he adjust? Can he protect the football as well as he did in 2018 or will he be the victim of regression?
Additionally, he played with some of the best offensive skill players in the country which played a role in his overall numbers. While I believe he possesses a lot of tools, he is far from being a sure thing and he is my #3 QB in this class.
For fantasy purposes his ceiling is that of the Class of 2019 QB1 but I think some of that depends on where he lands. On a team like the Giants he could be an excellent fit with all the short area weapons they have. I am not as much of a believer as the consensus because I believe he is going to have a hard time with the pressure defenses in the NFL.
It is unlikely I will be drafting Dwayne Haskins in any format this year and while this might prove to be a blunder, I would rather be the first one off the train. In redraft I don’t see him being usable so his value right now is entirely based in Dynasty and, possibly, SuperFlex Leagues. Even so, my investment will be minimal.