ASHBURN, Va. — Quarterback Dwayne Haskins watched from a bowling alley as one team after another passed on him. That is, until his hometown Washington Redskins ended his slide by picking him 15th overall. And then he delivered a message to those teams that turned elsewhere.
“I’m more motivated than ever, there’s a bigger chip on my shoulder, the league done messed up,” he said. “I’m right down the street, so we’re going to do it right this time. So it’s crazy.”
The good part for the Redskins is they didn’t have to trade up to get Haskins after all. The Redskins drafted Haskins with their 15th overall pick in the first round, giving them a quarterback of the future.
And the future might arrive fairly quickly. Coach Jay Gruden said the team needs to be patient with Haskins, while adding he’ll be given a chance to compete for the starting job.
“Well, if you are a 15th pick of the draft, I think you have to give him the opportunity, without a doubt,” Gruden said. “We feel good about the guys we have in the building for sure, but when you take a guy in the first round, you have to give him a chance to compete. That’s just the way it is, just the way pro football is.”
There has long been a split opinion on Haskins within the Redskins organization, especially when it came to possibly trading up to acquire him. Haskins attended three years of high school at Bullis in suburban Maryland, outside of Washington. Redskins owner Dan Snyder’s son is a sophomore football player at Bullis.
Haskins also becomes the first Big Ten quarterback to be drafted in the first round since Kerry Collins in 1995.
The Redskins draft QB Dwayne Haskins with the No. 15 overall pick.
Haskins finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting and was a third-team All-American. He threw for 4,831 yards, 50 touchdowns and only eight interceptions. In six games against ranked opponents, Haskins threw 20 touchdowns and six interceptions.
But he started for only one year at Ohio State, leading to concern by evaluators about how soon he’d be able to play.
“I had one year in college and I feel like I showed all I could as far as one year,” Haskins said. “I broke a lot of records and did a lot of great things. I feel like I did a lot of stuff that showed that I can be able to translate to the NFL. Just being able to do what I did at a high level, it was the right choice for me to make that change to go to the pros.”
Haskins’ performance in his lone year as a starter impressed Gruden.
“A quarterback that has performed like he has in one year of playing football is quite astonishing, actually,” Gruden said. “He’s got all the tools to be an exceptional quarterback in pro football. Now it’s a matter of getting him in the building. Get him caught up with the offense. Going slow with him. We’re excited to have him. Great kid, great player. Very smart. We feel really good where he is as a player. Where he’s going.”
The Redskins don’t have a solidified quarterback situation. Alex Smith’s future remains in jeopardy because of the compound fracture he suffered in November. They also have Case Keenum and Colt McCoy, but neither is considered a long-term starter.
However, their presence gives Haskins time to mature.
Haskins is the fourth quarterback Washington has chosen in the first round since 2002. None of them — Patrick Ramsey, Jason Campbell and Robert Griffin III — solved the position long-term.
Haskins does have a connection to Redskins. Though he said he had never met Snyder until going through the draft process, he did get to know his son, Daniel, while in school.
“It’s cool that his son went to my high school and I know his son,” Haskins said. “It’s just crazy how small this world is and how you meet somebody and that can change your life. That’s why I make sure I treat people the way I want to be treated, and I’ve got to do all I can to make sure that I leave a lasting impression on people. I think that’s [why] Mr. Snyder thought that I was the guy for this franchise. I’m just really excited for the future.”
And he’ll play in front of friends and family — with the hopes of proving others wrong.
“I mean, family’s everything … and all these people right here are right down the street,” Haskins said. “Just to think I started here in high school and I didn’t have a chance to go to Maryland. Now I’m about to come back to the area and we’re going to do it right this time.”
The Redskins weren’t done in the first round, acquiring the 26th overall pick from the Colts and using it to select Mississippi State defensive end Montez Sweat.
The Redskins considered drafting Sweat with the 15th pick and when he was still on the board later in the first round, they pounced. Sweat had been diagnosed with a heart condition during one of his early top-30 visits. But, he said, during a visit with the Houston Texans a doctor said he had been misdiagnosed. Sweat said he has a “normal heart.”
“I’m just getting ready to play football,” he said. “There will probably be the biggest chip on my shoulder there’s ever been.”
Gruden said, “We feel very strongly that he’s a strong, healthy young man.”