Dwayne Haskins Brings Both Pros and Cons to Washington
All week, the talk around the NFL Draft was that Washington was trying to trade up to get Dwayne Haskins.
Instead, he fell right into their laps.
In the years to come in the NFC East, it will be Daniel Jones and the Giants vs. Dwayne Haskins and the Redskins. It will be the ultimate measuring stick.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 26, 2019
Washington's need at the position was obvious with Alex Smith's career in danger, and they filled it with a guy who blew up in Columbus last fall, carrying the Buckeyes to a Rose Bowl victory.
But, there are some red flags in Haskins' statistical profile that do bake some risk into this pick. Let's run it all down and discuss what Haskins' presence means for Washington.
Pros and Cons
For Haskins, the questions do not center around his on-field play when he was at Ohio State. Instead, it's all about his lack of experience. But Haskins definitely looked the part in his short time as a starter.
Haskins finished 2018 with 10.3 adjusted yards per attempt (AY/A) and a 174.1 passing efficiency rating. Those are solid numbers, and they meet the benchmarks for past successful first-round quarterbacks.
Among the 48 quarterbacks selected in the first round from 2000 to 2017 (excluding last year's class due to small samples), 11 have finished in the top 10 in Total Net Expected Points (NEP) in one-third of their pro seasons in which they've recorded at least 200 drop backs. NEP shows the expected points added or subtracted on each play throughout the season and accounts for expected points quarterbacks add both as passers and as rushers.
Here's what those 11 quarterbacks did statistically in their final collegiate seasons compared to the other 37 quarterbacks who have been in the top 10 in Total NEP less often. The "games played" column is the number of games in which the quarterback had at least 10 pass attempts during their collegiate career.
|Collegiate Resumes||Games Played||AY/A||Pass. Eff. Rat.||Total QBR|
|One-Third of Seasons in Top 10||35.5||9.5||163.7||80.0|
Past successful first-round picks have had better stats in college than their less successful counterparts. Haskins grades out ahead of those successful picks, which does bode well for Washington.
Additionally, Haskins carried that efficiency over when the Buckeyes were facing tougher foes. They played six games against defenses ranked in the top 50 in Football Outsiders' pass defense S&P+, games that accounted for 42.8% of Haskins' pass attempts in 2018. His efficiency in those games was better than that of everybody in this class outside of Kyler Murray.
|Versus Top-50 Pass Defenses||AY/A||Percentage of Total Attempts|
Included in that sample was Haskins taking a flamethrower to the 21st-ranked pass defense of Michigan in "The Game," where Haskins threw for 396 yards and 6 touchdowns on just 31 attempts. Even when the competition was stiff -- especially late in the year -- Haskins maintained his high level of play.
But if you go back to the chart detailing collegiate resumes of successful versus unsuccessful first-round picks, you'll notice that the true home-run selections tend to come with extra experience. That's one department where Haskins does not measure up.
In his time at Ohio State, Haskins had at least 10 pass attempts in just 15 games. That is the fewest of any first-round pick this century. Prior to Murray (19 games) this year, Mitchell Trubisky (18) and Mark Sanchez (16) were the only quarterbacks with fewer than 20 games coming out. The jury is still out on Trubisky, but Sanchez was a bona fide bust.
What makes this a bit more daunting is that Sanchez had decent stats at USC, as well. But they weren't as good as Haskins' numbers; does that make Haskins more likely to avoid the "bust" label?
We ran through this in the piece on Murray, but the discussion obviously also applies to Haskins. Since 2000, there have been five first-round picks who have entered the NFL with fewer than 30 games in college but an AY/A of at least 10.0 in their final full collegiate season. Here's that list along with how often they've ranked in the top-5, top-10, and top-15 in Total NEP in seasons with at least 200 drop backs.
|Efficient but Inexperienced QBs||Top-5 Seasons||Top-10 Seasons||Top-15 Seasons||Total Seasons|
Obviously, Cam Newton is a rousing success as a former MVP. The rest, though, paint a bit of a different picture with only one top-10 season in Total NEP, and that one didn't come until Smith was throwing to Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce in his age-33 season.
Smith -- coincidentally, given Haskins' landing spot -- is actually an interesting name here and was our top comp for Haskins in the initial look at each passer's collegiate resume. Although Haskins is less mobile than Smith, the two share plenty of overlap coming out.
|Collegiate Resumes||Games Played||AY/A||Pass. Eff. Rat.||Total QBR|
Smith is a quarterback known for his pinpoint accuracy. The same is true of Haskins. We know that Smith hasn't turned out to be the world's greatest signal caller, but that doesn't make this a bad comp for Haskins.
Despite a lack of high-upside seasons, Smith was able to succeed once he got into a stable offense, and he has recorded 200 drop backs in 11 different NFL seasons. Even with his limitations, he is still a long-term starter at the position, which is more than a lot of former first-round picks can say. If Haskins winds up being another Smith, that doesn't make this a bad selection for Washington.
Smith is the type of quarterback you hope Haskins winds up being. But as you saw in the table above, there have been other efficient but inexperienced quarterbacks to go in the first round who flamed out completely. That is still within Haskins' range of outcomes, even if his highly accurate mold does give him a seemingly steady floor.
That red flag means Washington took on some risk in making this selection. If Haskins carries his play from Ohio State into the NFL, then he'll be worth that risk. There's just some unknown here that we'll have to track once Haskins gets his shot at the next level.
What This Means
Washington got its new franchise quarterback in Haskins, but -- given his lack of experience -- he seems best suited to sit and learn for a year. That makes 2019 an interesting year in the nation's capital.
With Case Keenum and Colt McCoy on the roster, Washington does have other options, but neither is going to be a long-term solution. As such, we could see Washington treading water early in the season, which is never a spot you want to be in.
Washington's win total at FanDuel Sportsbook is six games, so clearly, the books aren't expecting a big year from this team. The quarterbacking situation may actually make the under there a bit intriguing.
Once Haskins gets some time to learn at the next level, though, he showed his upside in college. Washington's offensive line -- when it can stay healthy -- is able to keep him clean, which will also help matters. There are worse situations for Haskins to be in.
Short-term, the outlook for Washington isn't super rosy given the questions at quarterback. But putting Haskins in the fold at least gives them hope for 2020 and beyond. That likely makes Haskins worth the risk for a franchise in desperate need of a long-term answer at the position.