Matt Miller's Scouting Notebook: Dwayne Haskins Emerges as the Draft's Top QB

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterJanuary 4, 2019

Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins smiles, with a rose between his teeth, after Ohio State defeated Washington 28-23 in the Rose Bowl NCAA college football game Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019, in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

All evaluators worth their paychecks will tell you that bowl games are some of their favorites to scout. The teams are prepared after nearly a month off. The players are fresh and not as banged up. And, generally speaking, you get to see good athletes face other good athletes. No Quinnen Williams versus The Citadel in these games.

Because of the marquee matchups and other factors, performance in bowl games can impact a scout's opinion when breaking down the film. It was then-sophomore Deshaun Watson's play in a loss against Alabama that many evaluators would point to when others started to doubt him. The same goes for Carson Wentz and his return to the FCS Championship game after missing time due to a wrist injury. Big games matter.

Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins took advantage of this truth in a dynamic performance against Washington—which boasts a very talented secondary—in the Buckeyes' Rose Bowl win. Haskins completed 25 of 37 passes for three touchdowns and showed the kind of pocket poise, accuracy outside the hashes and arm talent all over the field to secure his status as the top quarterback in the 2019 draft class should he decide to enter.

It's nice to go out on a hot streak, and that's exactly what Haskins has done by putting together elite tape against Michigan, Northwestern and Washington to close the season. Against three premier defenses, Haskins showed all the tools to make him the first quarterback off the board this April.

                  

The Scout's Report

With all the news surrounding wide receiver Antonio Brown, the Pittsburgh Steelers could face another offseason plagued by the absence of a top player. If the front office decides to trade Brown, there will be plenty of offers despite his salary and age (he turns 31 in July). The Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers, New York Jets, Indianapolis Colts, Buffalo Bills and Oakland Raiders would all have the salary-cap space and draft capital to pull off a move for Brown.

Jeffrey McWhorter/Associated Press

NFL teams are excited about the potential of the 2020 quarterback class featuring Tua Tagovailoa, Jake Fromm and Justin Herbert, but they're also already watching Clemson true freshman Trevor Lawrence. One top-level evaluator for an NFC team texted soon after Clemson defeated Notre Dame to remark that Lawrence is the "best I've seen since [Andrew] Luck was a freshman. And he was a redshirt."

—Quietly, Duke's Daniel Jones announced this past week that he will enter the 2019 NFL draft class. All season in this space we've noted his name as one teams like. We like him too. Jones has the body type, athleticism, arm talent and accuracy to be an NFL starter. In a weak class of quarterbacks, that should push him into the top 10 picks given the premium teams put on the position. 

—Due to that weakness in the 2019 draft (one scout told me it's "Bosa, Quinnen and then nothing"), expect teams in the top of the round on Day 1 to be sellers. Both the San Francisco 49ers and New York Jets could benefit from sliding back and allowing a team like Jacksonville to come up and select a quarterback early in the round. With only five picks, the 49ers could definitely benefit from a trade back that refills their draft chest.

—One of the more interesting players to declare for the draft (so far) is Penn State's Miles Sanders. He had to step in to replace Saquon Barkley this year and did well in that role. He's a patient runner with the vision, body type and balance through contact to get major carries in the pros, and he has shown good hands. The biggest question will be his long speed, which is why the NFL combine is super important for his stock. He has a chance at Day 2, though, with a strong showing.

                                       

The Big Board

It's time to update the big board before a full refresh of the top 50 and positional groups on Tuesday. Here's my most recent top 32:

1. Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State

2. Quinnen Williams, DL, Alabama

3. Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky

4. Devin White, LB, LSU

5. Greedy Williams, CB, LSU

6. Ed Oliver, DL, Houston

7. Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan

8. Jeffery Simmons, DL, Mississippi State

9. Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama

10. Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State

11. Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson

12. Trayvon Mullen, CB, Clemson

13. Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia

14. Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State

15. Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama

16. Noah Fant, TE, Iowa

17. Byron Murphy, CB, Washington

18. Devin Bush, LB, Michigan

19. Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State

20. Jachai Polite, EDGE, Florida

21. Dexter Lawrence, DL, Clemson

22. Dre'Mont Jones, DL, Ohio State

23. Daniel Jones, QB, Duke

24. Yodny Cajuste, OT, West Virginia

25. Raekwon Davis, DL, Alabama

26. Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn

27. Cody Ford, OG, Oklahoma

28. N'Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State

29. Oshane Ximines, EDGE, Old Dominion

30. Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss

31. Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa State

32. D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss

                                           

Parting Shots

6. Stock Up

If you watched Alabama running back Josh Jacobs absolutely dominate the Oklahoma defense, you are no doubt intrigued by his NFL draft stock. Pro scouts are intrigued too.

Jacobs, a junior at Bama, hasn't announced if he'll enter the upcoming class, but if he does, he'll immediately be ranked my RB1 and a potential top-10 player on the board. For now, he's not ranked due to the school's belief he'll return to Tuscaloosa next year. But he's already one of the most impressive players in the country with little left to prove as a runner or receiver.

Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

         

5. Stock Down

Oklahoma right guard Dru Samia had a rough assignment when asked to handle Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams in the semifinal matchup. He lost the day—and his cool—after a man-handling by the surefire top-five pick.

Samia struggled to keep pace with Williams' variety of moves and power. But Samia also lost his head on several occasions and was visibly frustrated after each lost rep. Samia and the Oklahoma offensive line deserved a ton of credit for a very good season. But Samia's performance in what became his final game in college left much to be desired.

           

4. Sleeper of the Week 

As we kick off the process of grading the film of the 2019 class, one player who keeps popping up is Virginia defensive back Juan Thornhill. A versatile safety who has also played some cornerback, Thornhill has excellent range and instincts. 

With the league favoring matchup defenders in the secondary, Thornhill's ability to play over the top, near the line of scrimmage or split out on a receiver makes him incredibly value. He has the look of a Day 2 pick.

              

3. The top 20 picks of the first round are set. Here's the current order based on win-loss percentage and strength of schedule:

1. Arizona Cardinals
2. San Francisco 49ers
3. New York Jets
4. Oakland Raiders
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
6. New York Giants
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
8. Detroit Lions
9. Buffalo Bills
10. Denver Broncos
11. Cincinnati Bengals
12. Green Bay Packers
13. Miami Dolphins
14. Atlanta Falcons
15. Washington Redskins
16. Carolina Panthers
17. Cleveland Browns
18. Minnesota Vikings
19. Tennessee Titans
20. Pittsburgh Steelers
21. Philadelphia Eagles
22. Indianapolis Colts
23. Seattle Seahawks
24. Baltimore Ravens 
25. Oakland Raiders (from Dallas)
26. Houston Texans
27. Oakland Raiders (from Chicago)
28. Los Angeles Chargers
29. New England Patriots
30. Los Angeles Rams
31. Kansas City Chiefs
32. Green Bay Packers (from New Orleans)

             

2. We're approaching the January 14 deadline for underclassmen to declare, so I've included a list (updated weekly) of those players who have declared already:

  • Clifton Duck, CB, Appalachian State
  • N'Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
  • Jamel Dean, CB, Auburn
  • Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn
  • Darius Slayton, WR, Auburn
  • Alexander Mattison, RB, Boise State
  • Trysten Hill, DL, Central Florida
  • Sean Bunting, CB, Central Michigan
  • Xavier Crawford, CB, Central Michigan
  • Preston Williams, WR, Colorado State
  • Joe Giles-Harris, LB, Duke
  • Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
  • Maxx Crosby, EDGE, Eastern Michigan
  • Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, S, Florida
  • Jachai Polite, EDGE, Florida
  • Vosean Joseph, LB, Florida
  • Jordan Scarlett, RB, Florida
  • Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
  • Jovon Durante, WR, FAU
  • Devin Singletary, RB, FAU
  • Kerrith Whyte Jr., RB, FAU
  • Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State
  • Jeff Allison, LB, Fresno State
  • Mike Bell, S, Fresno State
  • John Ursua, WR, Hawaii
  • Ed Oliver, DL, Houston
  • Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
  • Alex Barnes, RB, Kansas State
  • Benny Snell, RB, Kentucky
  • Ed Alexander, DL, LSU
  • Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
  • Darrell Henderson, RB, Memphis
  • Venzell Boulware, OL, Miami
  • Travis Homer, RB, Miami
  • Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
  • Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan
  • David Long, CB, Michigan
  • Justin Layne, CB, Michigan State
  • A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss
  • Dawson Knox, TE, Ole Miss
  • Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss
  • D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
  • Jeffery Simmons, DL, Miss. State
  • Anthony Ratliff-Williams, WR, North Carolina
  • William Sweet, OT, North Carolina
  • Kelvin Harmon, WR, NC State
  • Jakobi Meyers, WR, NC State
  • Sutton Smith, EDGE, Northern Illinois
  • Jazz Ferguson, WR, Northwestern State
  • Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State
  • Dre'Mont Jones, DL, Ohio State
  • Mike Weber, RB, Ohio State
  • Rodney Anderson, RB, Oklahoma
  • Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
  • Cody Ford, OL, Oklahoma
  • Jordan Brailford, EDGE, Oklahoma State
  • Justice Hill, RB, Oklahoma State
  • Dillon Mitchell, WR, Oregon
  • Ryan Bates, OT, Penn State
  • Kevin Givens, DL, Penn State
  • Connor McGovern, OL, Penn State
  • Shareef Miller, DL, Penn State
  • Miles Sanders, RB, Penn State
  • Tyler Roemer, OT, San Diego State
  • Kahale Warring, TE, San Diego State
  • Nate Herbig, OG, Stanford
  • Kaden Smith, TE, Stanford
  • Quart'e Sapp, LB, Tennessee
  • Tyrel Dodson, LB, Texas A&M
  • Jace Sternberger, TE, Texas A&M
  • Josiah Tauaefa, LB, UTSA
  • Keenen Brown, TE, Texas State
  • Antoine Wesley, WR, Texas Tech
  • Diontae Johnson, WR, Toledo
  • Andre James, OT, UCLA
  • Caleb Wilson, TE, UCLA
  • Dax Raymond, TE, Utah State
  • Darwin Thompson, RB, Utah State
  • Joejuan Williams, CB, Vanderbilt
  • Greg Dortch, WR, Wake Forest
  • Taylor Rapp, S, Washington
  • David Long, LB, West Virginia
  • David Edwards, OT, Wisconsin

           

1. Stick to Football drops a new mock draft (Wednesday) and lists our top 10 players returning for college football's 2019 season (Friday). Check out the podcast and subscribe if you haven't already. We will also post a ton of behind-the-scenes content on our Instagram page.

                                                                            

Matt Miller covers the NFL and NFL draft for Bleacher Report.

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