Dwayne Haskins is preparing as if he's already won it.
"I'll be ready for whatever the coaches want from me, whether that's starting right away, next year or through the season," Haskins told reporters. "I'm going to prepare like I'm the starter. That's me in the weight room, me in the meeting rooms, me with the younger guys, me with the older guys. Every opportunity is an opportunity for me to show that I'm the guy. That's what I'm working on."
The Ohio State product was the No. 15 overall pick in April's draft and has by far the highest upside of Washington's three quarterback options. Case Keenum and Colt McCoy are average NFL starting quarterbacks at the absolute peak of their performance levels and grade out in the bottom handful of potential starters.
While no one knows how Haskins will perform in the NFL, his ceiling is demonstrably higher than either Keenum or McCoy. He threw for 4,831 yards and 50 touchdowns against eight interceptions during his lone season as Ohio State's starter, winning Big Ten Player of the Year honors.
Organizationally, Haskins has the chance to be the first true franchise quarterback the team has had since Robert Griffin III tore his ACL and sent his career into a spiral.
"We're going to go at it," Gruden told reporters. "Throw the ball out there let these guys compete really. I think he obviously displayed enough of a skillset to warrant the 15th pick in the draft and to give him an opportunity to see how far he can take this thing without a doubt. I've been impressed with the other quarterbacks that we have here. Case has done an excellent job from the little bit we've seen of him, and Colt's obviously rehabbing. Josh [Woodrum] has done a good job as well. It's a good group and competition will be there."
Keenum likely has a leg up in the competition, given his experience. He's also just two years removed from finishing tied for third in the NFL MVP voting following a year in Minnesota that's aberrational compared to the rest of his career but still promising enough to give Gruden some hope.