(Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)
Dwayne Haskins has received a lot of praise from his teammates during OTAs and minicamp, the most noteworthy statement coming from Ben Roethlisberger when he unprompted surprisingly raved about Dwayne Haskins’ natural ability to throw the football.
“His release and throwing motion mechanics are some of the prettiest I have ever seen. ... I wish I had that,” Roethlisberger said of Haskins. “I joked that he could throw it through a car wash and it wouldn’t get wet. He’s learning it. It’s obviously a new system for him. He’s young in the league. It’s fun to have that young energy around. As I said, when he throws a football, it’s pretty.”
Mike Tomlin has been high on Haskins since the draft process and the two also share the same agent, Brian Levy. Tomlin says he's working on building a relationship with Haskins and hoping to get him on the right track after things didn't pan out in Washington.
"Really, I’ve been more concerned about Dwayne the person, kind of getting to know him and getting an understanding of what he’s been through and how that’s shaped him, affected him positively and negatively, how it’s affected the growth and development of his game," Tomlin said. "I think, more than anything, Dwayne and I are just trying to get to know one another. I think it starts there, and then we can focus on some things relative to the game itself. I leave some of the minutia and some of the detail about his football development between him and Sully [Mike Sullivan] and [Matt] Canada. I just want to get to know the young man and help him grow in that way."
It's been well noted that Haskins had a tumultuous tenure in Washington due to a combination of on and off-the-field issues. There were high expectations for Haskins after being the 15th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, but he just never delivered.
In his two seasons in Washington, Haskins completed 267 of 444 pass attempts for 2,804 yards (60.1%) with 12 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. In 2020, he completed 148 of 241 passes for 1,439 yards and had a 5-7 touchdown-interception ratio. He also has a 3-10 career record as a starter.
Haskins has said all the right things this offseason and it appears that he's well-respected by his teammates, but is the hype surrounding Haskins too much? I mean, he hasn't even thrown a pass in a preseason game yet.
I understand that fans want to see Haskins restore his career in Pittsburgh, and I'm rooting for him too, but I think the temptations should be lowered a little until we see him play in the preseason. Throwing a nice ball in OTAs and minicamp with no rush or defenders really doesn't mean much.
The preseason will be the first time that Haskins can truly be evaluated. That's when we'll see if he can surpass Mason Rudolph as the No. 2 quarterback. Until then, it's just OTAs and minicamp dialogue.
I think Haskins has the potential to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, but he had some serious accuracy and decision-making issues in Washington. Many felt that Washington picked him too high when he was coming out of Ohio State, as well. He was just a one-year starter at Ohio State and needed to fine-tune some of his skill sets.
"I would bet against him starting early," former Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley said of Haskins in April of 2019. "He had arguably best offensive line in college football, and a good supporting cast with a proven system. I believe the jump to the NFL will be a big one for him and he will be game manager-type early. I just didn’t see enough NFL throws on tape. And so much success was created by the system. He has shown the baseline skill set to be a successful one-year starter in college against a high level of competition, he shows very good short accuracy and the ability to be a progression passer. However he lacks downfield accuracy on tape and I don’t see him make many NFL throws. So it will take time and development."
Washington head coach Ron Rivera recently admitted that he should have created more competition for Haskins. Rivera also wasn't the coach who drafted Haskins, so it wasn't an ideal situation for the young quarterback. Maybe playing for the Steelers and under Tomlin's leadership will be the answer for Haskins, but the Brett Favre comparisons should be buried until we see him play in an actual game.