College prospects can be advised as to whether or not it is in their best interests to enter the NFL draft in a given year, or to stay in college for another season. Nobody can make them comply, however, whether it turns out to have been a mistake or not.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are among those who held the belief that Dwayne Haskins was not ready when he declared for the 2019 NFL Draft following an excellent season as the Ohio State quarterback. The fact that he only lasted two seasons with the team that drafted him would seem to justify that.
But the point of it all is that Haskins is still a young player who is very much learning the quarterback position, and especially how to play it at the NFL level. He talked about his points of focus since coming to Pittsburgh and how they have evolved over the course of training camp.
“I think the biggest thing now is understanding how to attack schemes, instead of just knowing the reads”, he told reporters on Wednesday. “You play different teams sometimes and plays that you read at the beginning of camp are different when you play a different team”.
Head coach Mike Tomlin announced earlier that day that neither Ben Roethlisberger nor Mason Rudolph would take the field for the offense during the Steelers’ preseason finale Friday night, and that Haskins would start (and will presumably play the majority of the game).
“I’m looking forward to this game, showing the ability to be able to check play, to check protections, work second, third progressions, and score touchdowns”, the third-year quarterback said of the opportunity, as he ostensibly looks to wrap up a roster spot as the number three quarterback. “That’s what I want to do”.
There is no denying that the offense has been most effective this preseason while Haskins has been in the game, at least barring Roethlisberger’s three-drive cameo last week that featured him tossing a couple of touchdown passes.
So far this preseason, he has completed 28 of 42 pass attempts (with four drops) for 271 yards, though he has only thrown one touchdown (another would-be touchdown drew defensive pass interference call, which yielded a rushing touchdown a play later). He has not thrown an interception.
Haskins has been dogged by criticisms of his maturity, both on and off the field. While he has contested some of it, he has also been open about the areas above the neck on the field in which he has received minimal coaching before arriving in Pittsburgh. If he can make strides in reading defenses and working through progressions, then perhaps he does have a chance of turning his career around.