By Jeremy Hritz
The storylines boisterously bursted out of Mandatory Minicamp at Heinz Field this week. So much so, you’d think it were a pre-game fireworks display. From Matt Canada’s quips on Big Ben and the offense, to TJ Watt holding court, but not talking contract, the media and Steelers’ fans were thrown some chewy nuggets to gnaw on during the agonizing lull in between now and the start of training camp on July 21st.
One of the most anticipated press conferences that occurred this week was when former first-round draft pick of the Washington Football Team, Dwayne Haskins, spoke to the media. There is plentiful buzz around Haskins because of his potential and what he could possibly be to the Steelers should the coaching staff and organization be able to pull of an impressive reclamation project. While the chances of this happening are under slim, the chance that it could happen has Steelers fans, and some in the media, asking, what if?
In an effort to understand the tools Haskins possesses, his successes and struggles at Ohio State and with the WFT, I spent some time digging into his history to truly get a better picture of what this young signal caller brings to the Steelers.
I have provided the statistical breakdown for Haskins from his time at Bullis High School in Maryland, to Ohio State, and finally, to his time with the Washington Football Team. While the gap in talent from high school to college to the NFL is significant, it does help to have a complete profile of his numerical performance from 2013 through 2020.
BULLIS HIGH SCHOOL (MD.)
WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM
CAREER – HS THROUGH WFT
Haskins Statistical Analysis
Outside of his sophomore season at Ohio State, Haskins has only thrown beyond 259 passes once in 7 years, occurring in his junior year in high school. While he came close to that number last season, and he probably would have eclipsed that total; unfortunately, he was benched before that could be a reality.
In terms of completion percentage, historically, from high school through professional football, he has lived in the 60% territory, with CPs below 60% in only 3 seasons: his sophomore year in HS, his senior year in HS, and his rookie season with the WFT. Surprisingly, in 2020, he recorded his third highest completion percentage in his entire career at 61.4, despite a lackluster offensive cast, which should offer some hope of what he can provide to the Steelers.
Regarding yards per attempt, Haskins numbers have been on a decline since his sophomore year in high school, which is understandable due to the elevated competition of collegiate and professional football. His first year as a starter in high school as a sophomore saw him clipping 15.7 yards per attempt; however, in his 2 seasons with the WFT, he has produced a 6.7 and 6 yards per attempt average, which is reminiscent of the small ball played in Pittsburgh in 2020 with the short passing attack.
What Did the Draft Profile Say Coming Out of Ohio State?
Haskins just turned 24 with a May birthday, so in terms of time for development, he has more than enough ahead of him to grow and mature into a starting-caliber quarterback, something he was not afforded with the WFT.
In terms of strengths for Haskins, there are no questions about his arm strength and ability to make every NFL throw. How accurately he makes those throws is a different narrative. With decent size at 6’3, 231 pounds, Haskins has a lengthy, lanky build, almost reminiscent of a wide receiver.
His release is lightning quick, making fast decisions and unloading the ball swiftly post-snap. Effortlessly, he can snap his wrist and torque the ball appropriately to execute the play. When watching tape from his time in Washington, you can see his ability to spin the ball immediately to his target, making the quick passing game his bailiwick.
In terms of the challenges he faces in his game, he is not the most limber or nimble in the pocket, which makes him susceptible to the pass rush, and sometimes he panics and makes bad decisions in the face of pressure. According to Pro Football Focus, Haskins struggles when throwing on the move, something he will need to be able to do in order to have a shot at a long-term career in the NFL.
Haskins has also shown he can lead his teams to big comeback victories with wins against Michigan as a redshirt freshmen, and against Penn State; however, what is worth noting about the victory against Penn State is that Haskins threw several short passes which resulted in big plays, and ultimately the victory, as opposed to down-the-field passes that dictated the outcome of the game.
Drawing a Conclusion on Haskins
As Alex Kozora said this week on The Steel Study Podcast, we cannot judge, evaluate, or predict what Haskins can do with the Steelers until we see him throw an official pass with the team, and that time is coming soon enough.
Haskins has the talent and potential enough to make a legitimate run for the 3rd quarterback spot with the Steelers at the conclusion of training camp, and I believe he will do it. While I do not believe QB2 is in his cards for this season, his best opportunity will come by earning the third spot, learning, growing, and developing.
Haskins will be given every opportunity to compete with Mason Rudolph and Josh Dobbs this training camp, and his performance will go a long way in indicating what his future with the team will be. It’s a fun story, and it seems everybody is rooting for Haskins, but he will have to prove not only that his transgressions from Washington are behind him, but also that he has what it takes to lead an NFL team.
It’s going to be one hell of a fun camp to watch in the quarterback room.
Is is training camp yet?