Examining Dwayne Haskins’ Skillset and Abilities

Reading Time: 6 minutes

 

Dwayne Haskins had a great 2018 year at Ohio State. With a 70% completion percentage, over 4,800 passing yards, and 50 TD passes, Haskins dazzled last season. What’s interesting when going through Dwayne Haskins’ first and only season as a starter is that you could see how much better that year could have been for him. Haskins was surrounded by a talented, but an inconsistent supporting cast and even Urban Meyer’s play calling left something to be desired at times. No one could draw the conclusion that because of this situation, if he goes to an NFL team with a good supporting cast, and good play caller, that he will be able to thrive. This is true, and it’s to his benefit… and to his detriment.

Haskins, like the other QB’s in this class, has flaws in areas that will give NFL teams pause overtaking them high in the first round. With Haskins, he shows an ability to distribute the ball effectively to different playmakers in his offense. However, in spite of all his abilities and accomplishments, when you look at his film, there’s a lot to be desired from Haskins. His nature as a QB is to be risk-averse, not challenge defenses, especially downfield. Too often that aversion to risk leads to plays that are left on the field; passes thrown away when a check down or a run could pick up a few yards, a sack by dropping his eyes against pressure instead of throwing it away, or locking onto a receiver pre-snap and missing a read that’s open later in the play.

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This is all to say that Haskins isn’t bad, at all. He’s more… frustrating. Haskins’ talent and ability allow him to challenge defenses downfield and more aggressively as a whole, but that’s not his playing style. And unfortunately, I don’t know if you can simply change a QB’s playing style, or if you even should change a QB’s playing style. There’s a bottom line with Haskins, and it’s a lesson everyone should take away when evaluating QBs: if you are committing to a QB for the future, you must be willing to accept that what you see is what you get. If your commitment to a QB, whether it’s with a high draft pick, or giving them a 2nd contract, is dependent on them growing into something that they yet to show on the field, you are taking a strong risk that is unlikely to pay off in the long run.

But there is plenty to work with when it comes to Dwayne Haskins, and with that, let’s take a look at his traits.

For my scouting reports, each position is graded on different traits on a scale of 1.0-8.0

1.0-1.9=Detrimental

2.0-2.9=Marginal

3.0-3.9=Below Average

4.0-4.9=Solid

5.0-5.9=Above Average

6.0-6.9=Good

7.0-7.5=Very Good

7.5-8.0=Elite

 

Some are shared, such as size and athleticism/QAB (Quickness, Agility, and Balance), but most are position specific.

1. Size and Athleticism/QAB-6.0

Dwayne Haskins fits the prototypical mold for QBs. He’s tall and has both mobility and girth. Haskins’s ability to elude tacklers helps him not only when he is running with the ball, but also when he is in the pocket and can stay upright when defenders go high to sack him. Haskins’s athletic abilities also allow him to run the read option, opening up other areas of the offense as a whole  (though he is by no means a running QB by any stretch of the imagination). He can also run in passing situations, keeping defenses honest.

2. Arm Strength-5.8

Haskins has a good arm that has good velocity, which helps him to drive balls down the field. However, if he needs to laser a throw into a tight window, I’m not sure he has the ability to change speeds to a higher velocity in the way that Kyler Murray can. His arm especially works in his favor when Haskins is under pressure and taking hits. The ball can still get to his target without fluttering every time. His arm strength is good though, and it will help him particularly early on, especially since he doesn’t rely on his arm to make tight throws.

3. Upper Body Mechanics-6.0

Haskins is a mechanically sound QB from the waist up. His shoulders stay square to his intended target, helping keep his accuracy in the general area of his target. His throwing motion, while it looks like he’s trying to push the ball like a javelin, doesn’t hinder him or delay his throwing. It’s important to remember that unorthodox is only bad when it’s a hindrance; Philip Rivers has been shot-putting throws for years now, and it’ll earn him a hall of fame bust when he retires.

4. Footwork-4.1

When Haskins has time, his footwork is sound and he follows through on his throws well. His problems come under pressure, which is standard for most QBs; when the pressure is imminent, mechanics tend to break down. With Haskins however, even when the pressure isn’t imminent, his footwork can break down. Sometimes he’ll throw off his back foot or without following through, causing the ball to sail or float at times. He needs to learn to have more consistent footwork when he is under pressure, and in general.

5. General Accuracy-6.7

Haskins’s general accuracy is one of his best traits, as he is able to throw a consistently catchable ball to his receivers. His passes aren’t always in the exact spot, but there’s rarely a play where he will outright miss a receiver when he isn’t under pressure. He has good control of his mechanics and knows when and where to deliver the ball.

6. Spot Accuracy-4.0

Haskins really isn’t a spot thrower. When going through his tape, I don’t see him throwing to a spot that prevents the defense from making a good play on the ball. Rather, his throws give his receivers a chance to make a play on the ball. Think of a player like Case Keenum or Nick Foles. While they may not able to throw the ball to a precise spot every time, they’re often able to give their playmakers a chance on the ball.

7. Reading Coverage/FBI-5.1

Haskins does a good job setting protections and adjusting things before the snap. He did that consistently during his year as a starter, and especially for an RS Sophomore. It was very impressive to see him have command of the offense at the line of scrimmage. His issues come when trying to process things post snap, as he too often locks onto a receiver before the snap, and will throw it to them, even when the coverage suggests he shouldn’t. Hopefully, given his age, Haskins will be able to continue to progress in this area and grow in both pre and post snap decision making.

8. Running Ability-5.5

As stated before, Haskins has a good running ability, though you wouldn’t know that based on his stats or what Stephen A. Smith might say. He can run the option, and probably should run the ball a little more than he should, but I won’t ever fault a QB for wanting to be a passer more than a runner.

9. Off Schedule Plays-3.5

This is where Haskins’ playing style gets in the way. Calling Haskins conservative is not necessarily the best way of putting it. Instead, he works best when he’s able to work in conjunction with the system he’s operating in, executing the design of the play, and keeping the offense on schedule. When things don’t go as planned, Haskins struggles to improvise and make plays outside the system. He’ll take unnecessary sacks, throw the ball away instead of taking the check down, or scramble when his internal clock goes off, even when there isn’t pressure. Wherever Haskins ends up, his offensive coaches must realize this aspect if they are going to get the most out of him.

10. Handling Pressure-3.7

Most QBs can’t function well under pressure; guys like Brady, Brees, Rodgers, they’re unicorns in this regard. Haskins struggles like most QBs under pressure, but perhaps a little more than some. His footwork falls apart when pressure is near, and he doesn’t follow through on certain throws. There are also times when he can’t sense pressure and is able to shrug off defenders who go high on him, but other times he’ll still be looking to throw instead of sensing and trying to avoid the pressure.

11. Tight Window Throws-3.9

With the way Haskins plays, it’s hard to evaluate his ability to hit tight window throws. Typically speaking he will throw to a receiver that is supposed to be open based on his pre-snap reads. However, when he typically throws to a covered receiver or a tight window, I think it tends to be because he misread the coverage initially and locked onto the receiver regardless of the coverage. It’s difficult to tell when he tries to hit throws into tight windows, and when he does, it’s inconsistent.

12. Anticipation-7.1

Haskins’ best trait is his ability to anticipate throws. He has a clear understanding of timing within his offense and knows how important it is to help throw a receiver open. This ability allows Haskins to not only execute west coast concepts and RPOs that are dependent on timing, but his anticipation is what can allow him to throw deep. Rather than relying on a stronger, elite arm that other QBs might have, Haskins can throw earlier to an area downfield and let the receiver run under the throw.

 

Overall, Haskins grades out as a 5.1 QB, which is an above average player and will make him QB1 in this class. Haskins is the one QB I would feel most comfortable with as a potential franchise QB. My concern is whether or not he can progress to become something better than he is now, and if he doesn’t, how much offensive firepower will he need to become more effective? I think Haskins will be successful, but it will require a very, very good situation.

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