Dwayne Haskins has declared for the 2019 NFL Draft, to the surprise of ... not many. But it did make us wonder, which NFL teams would represent the best fit for the record-setting, one-year starter at Ohio State?
Haskins flashed the ability to push the ball down the field in 2018, as 70 percent of his throws made 30 or more yards downfield were deemed "on target" by Sports Info Solutions. He had 10 touchdowns, one interception, and a passer rating of 124.3 on those deep throws.
However, Haskins mostly shredded defenses with the quick passing game, which allowed the Buckeyes' skill-position talent to thrive. Of his 533 attempts in 2018, 482 of them (90.4 percent) came 20 or fewer yards downfield (or behind the line of scrimmage). And 73.1 percent of Haskins' attempts were made 10 yards or fewer down the field.
Sure, a lot of that had to do with Ohio State's scheme, but it's safe to say the speed at which Haskins can get through his reads and his pinpoint ball placement at the short-to-intermediate levels make him an ideal quarterback prospect to run the West Coast Offense.
The vast majority of the NFL runs some variant of the West Coast Offense, yet a few teams, coaches, and offensive coordinators are more rooted in that famed scheme than others. Those clubs represent Haskins' best fits; here's a look at each.
Oakland Raiders (pick No. 4)
Jon Gruden's first NFL gig came as a San Francisco 49ers' offensive assistant in 1990 under head coach George Seifert and offensive coordinator Mike Holmgren. The latter was the quarterbacks coach during WCO innovator Bill Walsh's final years with the franchise ... so, yeah, Gruden' philosophy has a strong WCO foundation. He got to a Super Bowl with twilight-of-his-career Rich Gannon in 2002, who operated Gruden's quick-passing WCO on his way to an NFL MVP award while leading the league in completion percentage, passing yards, and passer rating.
The Raiders got solid play from 2014 second-rounder Derek Carr down the stretch, and no indications have been made that Gruden and Co. will move on from their veteran starter. However, if they chose to let him go, the Raiders would incur a $7.5 dead cap hit while saving $15 million. Haskins would be the logical replacement from a schematic standpoint.
Denver Broncos (No. 10)
The next head coach in Denver could change things, but Bill Musgrave is currently the Broncos' offensive coordinator, another play-caller with a WCO background, having earned a gig with the Seifert-led Carolina Panthers in 1999.
After an inefficient season from free-agent signee Case Keenum -- 6.6 yards per attempt and 18 touchdowns to 15 interceptions -- the Broncos very well could be in the quarterback market this offseason. Keenum represents a $21 million cap hit in 2019. If he's released, his dead cap hit would be $10 million.
Haskins would make plenty of sense in Denver if the front office (and next head coach) wants to emphasize the short, get-it-out-fast passing game, and would definitely be on the radar at No. 10 overall.
Cincinnati Bengals (No. 11)
The Bengals' offensive coordinator is currently Bill Lazor, who actually doesn't have roots in the West Coast Offense, but has utilized a spread, up-tempo attack similar to what Haskins operated in Columbus this past season. Lazor was the mastermind behind the two highest passing-yard seasons of Ryan Tannehill's career and was the quarterbacks coach under Chip Kelly when Nick Foles led the NFL with a 119.2 rating and threw 27 touchdowns to just two picks in 2013.
There is no more guaranteed money in Andy Dalton's contract, so the Bengals could release him at any point in either of the next two seasons... but even if he starts in 2019, the team would be smart to search for the future at the signal-caller spot.
In Cincinnati, Haskins would see many familiar route combinations from the shotgun formation if Lazor is retained as offensive coordinator.
Washington Redskins (No. 15)
He's Jon Gruden's brother, so of course Jay Gruden's offense is based in the WCO. He got high-volume production from Kirk Cousins and certainly prioritizes accuracy on short passes over quarterbacks with big, field-stretching arms (see: Colt McCoy).
Gruden's job appears to be safe for at least 2019, and with Alex Smith recovering from what was once thought to be a career-ending leg injury, Washington wouldn't be foolish to invest in a young quarterback with the skills needed to operate the WCO like Haskins.
Los Angeles Chargers (pending)
The Chargers are still alive in the NFL postseason, but we know the earliest they'll pick in the draft is No. 25 overall. For years now, Philip Rivers has methodically moved his team up and down the field with short passes. Despite an offensive line that, of late, has never had the reputation of being one of football's best, Rivers hasn't had a sack rate of 6.0% or higher since 2012, and his 3.0% sack rate in 2017 was the lowest in the NFL.
Haskins, who made 14 starts at the collegiate level, would be best set up for success sitting for a season (or two) behind a savvy veteran with similar skill set to him, and practicing in an offense that would accentuate those skills. He'd get all of that if he landed with the Chargers.