Expectations for 2021 are low for Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who is No. 3 on the depth chart, ahead of fourth-stringer Josh Dobbs but behind backup Mason Rudolph. But by all accounts, Haskins has looked sharp thus far in training camp, a hint that he could ultimately become a bigger part of the team’s plans at quarterback—perhaps in 2022.
In Mark Kaboly’s latest 10 Observations column for The Athletic, Kaboly notes that Haskins “continues to quietly impress” at camp, routinely exhibiting the arm strength and skill set that encouraged Washington to select him No. 15 overall in the 2019 NFL Draft. It’s not just that Haskins has “been on target plenty,” as Kaboly puts it.” He also appears to be a good fit for the offense of new offensive coordinator Matt Canada.
“Haskins has been pretty nimble, slightly moving the pocket with his feet and making the correct reads and strong throws,” advises Kaboly. “He has made some throws on the run and handled the motion Canada wants to employ. Haskins isn’t known as a running quarterback, but he has shown that ability, too.”
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Mike Tomlin Has Been Impressed by Haskins, Too
It’s not just the media who have taken notice of Haskins’ upside potential. For one, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin hasn’t hesitated to talk about what he’s seen from the 24-year-old, who signed a one-year Reserve/Future contract with the team in January.
“I like what he’s doing,” Tomlin said on Thursday. “He’s taking care of the ball, but at the same time being aggressive. He’s dialed in, even in the reps in which he’s not going. He’s building a rapport with the group of guys that he’s getting an opportunity to work with and I think that’s a component of this that we often don’t talk about, too. There’s a get-to-know in terms of cohesion, especially when you are working with multiple groups and multiple people, and that’s a guy who is getting some third-group reps, some second-group reps, so he has a lot of people to get comfortable with.”
For his part, Steelers starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has taken notice of Haskins’ arm strength and mechanics in particular. In the spring he told quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan that Haskins’ “release and throwing motion mechanics are some of the prettiest I’ve ever seen,” and also joked that Haskins “could throw [a football] through a car wash and it wouldn’t get wet.”
A Few Caveats
Skeptics will note that Haskins has mostly been working against second- and third-team defensive backs at practice. But that also means he’s been working with the team’s second- and third-string wide receivers, including rookie undrafted free agent Rico Bussey, who “stole the show” at practice on Thursday, with most of his catches—including a long touchdown to close out a simulated 2-minute drill—coming on throws from Haskins.
“He’s talented,” Bussey said about Haskins after practice. “He has a real good arm and he’s accurate. He can zip it in there, too.”
Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether Haskins can avoid off-the-field drama going forward.
Earlier this month, KLAS-TV in Las Vegas reported that Haskins’ wife was arrested and charged with domestic battery and Kalabrya Gondrezick-Haskins was “accused of knocking out one of [Dwayne’s] teeth when she punched him after a disagreement,” this according to an arrest report obtained by the station.
If he can, it seems as if he might get the opportunity to compete for the starting quarterback job in 2022. Notably, at least one former Washington teammate, Donald Penn, believes that Haskins is capable of taking over for Roethlisberger if he can just “stay focused.”
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