- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 25, 2019

When Alex Smith went down with a broken leg last November, it was obvious to many the Washington Redskins would again be in the market for a quarterback — specifically one they could tout as the future of the franchise.

On the first night of the NFL draft, the Redskins believe they found their man.

Washington selected Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins with the 15th overall pick Thursday.

At 6-foot-3, Haskins, who went to high school in Potomac, Maryland, is considered a pure pocket passer.

He was seen by some analysts as the top signal-caller in this draft, though Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray ended up surpassing him on many other big boards. Murray went first overall to the Arizona Cardinals.

Haskins found out the news at a draft party in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

“I’m excited, man,” Haskins said. “I just really can’t believe it. I’m just grateful for the opportunity.”

In the lead up to the draft, the Redskins were heavily rumored to be interested in drafting a quarterback. Particularly, there were reports that Redskins owner Dan Snyder and team president Bruce Allen were high on Haskins. Haskins not only set Big Ten records at Ohio State for passing yards and touchdowns, but the 21-year-old’s local ties were also appealing. He went to the same high school as Snyder’s son.

Other reports had the Redskins interested in Duke’s Daniel Jones, a 6-foot-5 quarterback with ties to Peyton and Eli Manning. And hours before the draft, another rumor emerged that some people within the organization were at odds with the front office — preferring Jones to Haskins.

Ultimately, the Redskins didn’t have to choose between the two.

The New York Giants shocked the NFL world — taking Jones sixth overall. The Giants likely view the 21-year-old as a successor to veteran Eli Manning.

Jones’ stock rose dramatically in recent weeks, but Haskins is generally seen as the better prospect. He threw for 4,831 yards and 50 touchdowns last season.

Haskins, who was the third quarterback taken, said once the Miami Dolphins passed on him at No. 13, he knew he would be drafted by the Redskins. Earlier in the week, Haskins had said he felt like there was something “there” with Washington, noting he had a great relationship with Snyder.

“I never met Dan Snyder before I was able to meet him in the draft process,” Haskins said. “It’s cool that his son went to my high school, and I know his son. It’s just crazy how small this world is and how you meet somebody and that can change your life. That’s why I make sure I treat people the way I want to be treated, and I’ve got to do all I can to make sure that I leave a lasting impression on people.

“I think that’s [why] Mr. Snyder thought that I was the guy for this franchise.”

There is some expectation that Haskins can come in and compete with Colt McCoy and Case Keenum for the starting Redskins job, but others predict the rookie, who started just one year at Ohio State, will have to sit a year to learn.

Haskins, though, didn’t seem concerned.

“I had one year in college, and I feel like I showed all I could as far as one year,” Haskins said. “I broke a lot of records and did a lot of great things. I feel like I did a lot of stuff that showed that I can be able to translate to the NFL. … I’m grateful the Redskins thought so as well and have selected me.”

Redskins coach Jay Gruden said he plans to be patient with Haskins, but added the quarterback will get the opportunity to win the job. He added later the biggest challenge for Haskins will be the speed of the game. Gruden downplayed concerns about Ohio State’s system being different than the NFL.

The Redskins considered using the 15th pick on a different position, given other needs on the roster. But Washington addressed one of their biggest holes later in the evening — trading back into the first round for Mississippi State pass rusher Montez Sweat.

Gruden said Haskins‘ upside was a reason the team “couldn’t pass him up.”

“We spent a lot of time with him,” Gruden said. “We feel really good about where he is as a player and where he’s going.”

Haskins, meanwhile, said will do everything he can to be ready. When he was in high school, Haskins recalled attending Redskins games at FedEx Field during the Robert Griffin III era.

“Football’s taken very seriously down here,” Haskins said, “and I’m looking forward to bringing that winning tradition back to the Redskins.”

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