The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Dwayne Haskins will beat out Mason Rudolph for the team’s backup quarterback position in 2021.
Explanation: The Steelers drafted Mason Rudolph in 2019 believing that he had first-round talent, taking him in the third round. Now they have a quarterback who was actually drafted in the first round, who will come in and compete at the position.
Somehow one aspect of the Dwayne Haskins acquisition that we don’t really seem to be discussing is the fact that the Steelers have presumably some first-hand intelligence on him. Their wide receivers coach, Ike Hilliard, was with Washington with Haskins during his rookie season in 2019, so they surely consulted him before signing the quarterback and believed they could work with him.
And let’s face it, his competition is not Steve Young here. We’re talking about Mason Rudolph, whom a lot of people wanted to be cut before the 2020 season. He did well enough for himself while playing from behind against the Browns in week 17, but that’s not enough to go on.
Get Haskins out of his Washington environment, get him in the (virtual) classroom and harness his skills, and you can have something to work with. Maybe he’s not going to be your heir apparent (neither is Rudolph), but he can at least be a backup with upside.
Outside of being more athletic (though not necessarily mobile) and having greater arm strength, there is nothing that Haskins has over Rudolph that Paxton Lynch didn’t have, and when’s the last you heard of him? The Steelers opted for both Joshua Dobbs and Devlin Hodges over him.
The kinds of problems that Haskins has as a quarterback are the kinds that don’t typically get fixed. He never really learned the game from the neck up, and he never had to at Ohio State. That doesn’t cut it in the NFL, and that’s why he’s going to remain firmly in the ‘bust’ status and stand behind Rudolph on the depth chart.