ASHBURN — Dwayne Haskins started just one year at Ohio State, but the Washington Redskins have seen enough to know their first-round quarterback has all the physical tools necessary to succeed in the NFL. Now the Redskins are eager to see how quickly he can adjust to the mental demands of running coach Jay Gruden’s offense.
At rookie minicamp over the weekend, Gruden handed Haskins about 20 percent of the playbook — about 50 plays — for the quarterback to use in drills.
“It’s challenging,” Haskins said Saturday. “You want it to be challenging.”
Haskins appears to be off to a fast start.
Gruden said he was impressed with the rookie, who drew quite the crowd in the session open to reporters and select fans. Haskins connected often with third-rounder and former college teammate Terry McLaurin and sixth-rounder Kelvin Harmon.
Gruden said the ball “jumps” off Haskins’ hands.
“It’s been a treat,” Gruden said. “I think he’s made some throws that turn your head without a doubt.”
The Redskins plan to take the time to develop Haskins after drafting him with the 15th overall pick. While they intend for him to compete for the starting job, the team’s priority at minicamp was to stress the basics. That meant even reviewing how to huddle — as Haskins often went up-tempo at Ohio State.
Haskins, too, is learning the West Coast offense. In college, he said, plays were called by using four or five signals. But for the Redskins’ offense, play-calling involves 15 words. Haskins said it takes “hours and hours” of film to fully understand the system.
Haskins was hardly perfect in practice. He was intercepted once and missed on a variety of throws during a 7-on-7 session. Gruden said Haskins and the offense did a better job Friday than they did on Saturday.
Still, Haskins’ touch and arm strength were evident. Gruden said Haskins is fundamentally sound when he has a clean pocket. He was also impressed with how the 22-year-old responded to working in the red zone.
“He’s displayed that he can make, in a short period of time, all the throws — the deep ball throws, the 20-yard dagger type throw where you have to line it, and then the touch throws, the anticipation type throws,” Gruden said. “He’s kind of displayed a little bit of everything these last two days.”
Haskins will have to beat out veterans Case Keenum and Colt McCoy if he wants the starter’s job.
At Ohio State, Haskins had to wait two years to become the starter — sitting behind J.T. Barrett.
“It was definitely hard,” Haskins said. Every competitor wants to play, but you have to know that it’s for the team, it’s bigger than you. If the coach thinks that I’m the best option to win games this year, then I’ll be more than excited.
“And if they feel like I’m not ready, I’ll make sure I’m ready. Just looking forward to getting better every day, and that’s the most important thing.”
Fans will likely want Haskins to start. He has already generated a considerable amount of buzz — from the team’s decision to introduce him on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial to fans clamoring for an autograph after Saturday’s practice.
Haskins said he’ll be ready.
“I’m just going to prepare like I’m the starter, and that’s with me in the weight room, me in the meeting rooms, me with the younger guys, me with the older guys,” Haskins said. “Every opportunity for me is an opportunity for me to showcase that I’m the guy.”