Just two years ago, Dwayne Haskins Jr. was viewed as the top quarterback of the 2019 draft. Names like Kyler Murray, Daniel Jones, and Drew Lock were consistently ranked behind the Ohio State gunslinger. Somewhere during the draft process Haskins took a step back which triggered a snowballing effect on his career. Haskins now finds himself competing for his NFL life in the Pittsburgh Steelers system. But how did he get here? How did Haskins blossom into one of the best players in college football to now, hanging on to his job by a thread. Today we are going to recount the events that led to the rise, fall, and eventual second chance given to Dwayne Haskins.
It has always been well documented that Dwayne Haskins was a massive Ohio State fan since he was born. Haskins got to live his dream, when, after originally committing to the University of Maryland. Haskins de-committed from the school when they fired their head coach thus enrolling at Ohio State. Haskins red-shirted his first year on campus before being the primary back-up to former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, JT Barrett in 2017.
Ohio State Dreaming
In 2018, Haskins exploded onto the scene leading the Buckeyes to a 13-1 record including hoisting the Rose Bowl trophy. On the season Haskins put up over 4,800 yards to go along with 50 touchdown passes to just 8 interceptions. He was completing 70% of his throws and took home a ton of college football hardware. Only 7 players have ever thrown 50 touchdowns in a single NCAA season. To say Haskins lit the NCAA on fire would be an understatement.
Dwayne Haskins and the Buckeyes win the Rose Bowl 28-23! pic.twitter.com/Z7Yx8a8M5f— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 2, 2019
This is what NFL analyst, Lance Zierlein had to say about Haskins following the 2019 combine:
“Big and talented with explosive arm talent but limited mobility Haskins is a chance-taker with the arm strength to get away with some tight window throws that most in this class can’t make. Haskins is still very early in his journey and is prone to misreading coverage and stalling in getting through his progressions.”
Haskins was compared to Drew Bledsoe and received a draft grade which called for him to be a quality NFL starter. His biggest down side was his lack of experience, and his less than athletic nature that has become normal in the modern offence. But Haskins had a rocket arm and could make all the throws, he didn't need to run a 4.4 40 yard dash. But, in hindsight Haskins most needed to sit and learn from an experienced quarterback.
Draft Day Drop
Many experts thought Haskins would be the first quarterback taken off the board. Some insiders caught wind that Arizona had fallen in love with Kyler Murray despite having selected a quarterback in the first round a year prior. That being said, nobody thought Haskins would make it past the New York Giants sitting in the fifth overall position. However, the Giants had other plans and selected Duke quarterback Daniel Jones. Quarterback needy teams like Jacksonville, Miami, and Cincinnati even passed on Haskins. It wasn't until the 15th overall selection when the Washington Football team called Haskins name. Reports even suggest that team owner Dan Snyder demanded the team draft Haskins if he made it to their draft position. The slight seemed to motivate Haskins who perhaps had the words of the night.
"The league done messed up."— ESPN (@espn) April 26, 2019
Dwayne Haskins letting Washington Redskins fans know he's ready to get work pic.twitter.com/ym6tjIFBvr
Rookie Year Flop
Haskins first NFL action came in relief of Case Keenum in a Week 4 game against the New York Giants. In the Game Haskins threw for only 107 yards and three interceptions, including a pick-six. Throughout the rest of the season Haskins was mostly relegated to the bench unless he was replacing a struggling Keenum. Haskins also never saw eye to eye with then head coach Jay Gruden. He would finish his rookie year with just 1,365 passing yards while throwing 7 touchdowns and 7 picks.
Training Camp Rebound
Things were looking up for Haskins heading into the 2020 season. He was down 7% body fat and was named both the teams Week 1 starter and voted team captain of the Washington Football Club. Even more remarkably he achieved this when his new head coach Ron Rivera didn't want anything to do with him. Haskins was determined to make a big impact in year two and by all accounts was the Football Teams’ leader throughout the offseason. Going so far as to set up workouts with his team mates at least three times per week. His offensive coordinator, Scott Turner was impressed by the effort Haskins put into the offseason.
Haskins had a bumpy start to the 2020 NFL season. In Week 4 against Baltimore he set a career high for passing yards in a game (314). But the previous week against Cleveland he turned the ball over four times. The inconsistent play would lead to the Week 5 benching of Haskins. Les Carpenter of the Washington Post said of the demotion:
“Rivera’s benching of Haskins, the once-presumed quarterback of the future, after just four games was a surprise, given the seeming commitment the coach had made to playing Haskins the whole season.”
Carpenter would further go on to express his surprise of the move because of the praise Haskins earned from Rivera at camp. The regular season was a stark contrast of the bright preseason activity.
Haskins would remain on the bench until Week 14 where he would start the final three games of his Washington tenure.
Fall From Grace
Following his Week 15 game against the Seattle Seahawks, pictures of Haskins surfaced in which he was attending his ‘girlfriends’ birthday party while not wearing a mask. The problem was this was the second time Haskins broke the NFL’s Covid-19 protocol. For the incident Haskins was fined $40,000 by the team and lost his status as a captain.
Despite the mistake Haskins still got the start for the Football team’s Week 16 clash against the Carolina Panthers. However, Dwayne would be benched in favor of Taylor Heinicke in the fourth quarter of the game. Haskins was released by the team the day after, Rivera said he believed that the move benefited both parties if they went their separate ways.
"With all the distractions, all things that happened, it was time."— SiriusXM NFL Radio (@SiriusXMNFL) December 29, 2020
Washington FT head coach Ron Rivera gave his side of why the team decided to release Dwayne Haskins.#WashingtonFootball | @PatKirwan_NFL pic.twitter.com/pwmtOuK2e6
Welcome To Pittsburgh
In the Weeks following Haskins release the quarterback would make a number of decisions. The first being firing his now former agent, David Mulugheta. In a subsequent move he hired Brian Levy as his replacement. Levy also represents Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, and with Levy as the middle man there really is nowhere for Haskins to hide.
After considering offers from both the Carolina Panthers and the Pittsburgh Steelers, Haskins signed his one year futures deal with Steelers on January 21st.
Dwayne Haskins has no guaranteed role on this team. While many viewed Haskins decision to sign in Pittsburgh a smart one, if he fails in the Steel city it would likely be the last time he plays in the NFL. A futures contract is the least amount of money that a player in Haskins position could make. The ego side has to be completely gone as he means currently means nothing to the Steelers then a possible reclamation project.
What the Steelers offered Haskins was an opportunity to be the absolute bottom of the depth chart guy that only has to worry about learning the playbook, while demonstrating he can be an outstanding citizen. One slip up and he will be gone, and he knows this.
Just because Haskins is on the team doesn't mean he won't be replaced either. He’s essentially the Devlin Hodges replacement, and if Joshua Dobbs is re-signed he bumps back down into the fourth quarterback slot. At best he will fight to be the guy that gets healthy scratched every week. And he has to watch how Ben Roethlisberger conducts himself. Some of the lessons Haskins needs to learn won't be something someone will directly teach him, but things he picks up from others actions along the way.
With no quarterbacks currently under contract beyond the 2021/2022 season Haskins has received a very special gift. But it will come down to what he can make of this opportunity. This will be no easy task, and it all starts with Haskins proving he deserves a shot in training camp.
But what do you think of the Haskins signing? Can he be saved/will he put the work in to make this team in 2021? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below.