Why I would draft Dwayne Haskins over Kyler Murray (it's not because of height)
The news that Kyler Murray picked football over baseball meant that one debate ended and another one began — Murray or Dwayne Haskins?
It’s a decision that could make or break an NFL franchise. Both are projected by experts as likely top-10 picks in this upcoming draft following their Heisman-worthy seasons as starters. Both were 1-year wonders who racked up ridiculous numbers in the process.
The debate, while fun, might not have a wrong answer 10 years from now. It could be that Haskins and Murray become the next John Elway vs. Dan Marino debate, which ends with both of them in Canton.
A lot of people will treat all things equal and use the size factor to decide that Haskins is the smarter, safer pick than Murray. I’m actually going to do the opposite. Let’s say hypothetically that size is the thing that’s equal. Why would I do that when no quarterback Murray’s size has ever shined in the NFL?
Well, a few reasons. If Murray was 5-11 instead of 5-9, he’d essentially be the same height as Russell Wilson or Drew Brees. Is 2 inches going to make or break whether Murray can become as successful as them? I don’t believe it will.
Besides, there are other metrics that debunk the size theory as it relates to standard huddles.
Kyler Murray had 5 passes batted down last season.
Daniel Jones (6'5) had 12.
Drew Lock (6'4) had 8
Will Grier (6'1) had 1
Dwayne Haskins (6'3) also had 5
Batted passes isn't connected with QB height, statistically.
6'6 Joe Flacco led the NFL in BP rate last season.
— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) February 12, 2019
I’m not going to dig into the size issue because in this era of spread offenses, the league is now more conducive than ever to a quarterback who throws out of the pocket and without a 6-5 offensive lineman to see over.
So yes, while Haskins does have the obvious size advantage, I won’t use that to say that he’s the better draft pick. I have other reasons.
For starters, Haskins is obviously more of a runner than a thrower, which I like.
Oh, wait. I’m not Stephen A. Smith, which means I actually watched Haskins play football in 2019.
What I watched from Haskins, I believe, was someone worthy of being the first quarterback selected in the draft. It isn’t just the big arm. It’s the accuracy. It’s that he already has the ability to go through his progressions, read coverages and deliver on-target throws at an extremely high level. The windows that Haskins fits balls into will translate on any level.
And while the knock on Haskins is that he can’t move like Murray, his mobility isn’t going to hold him back. Haskins is by no means a statue. The guy only got sacked multiple times in 4 games, which is incredible for someone who threw an average of 38 passes per game.
This is more how Haskins uses his mobility:
Impressive job by Dwayne Haskins escaping the pressure, using his legs to buy time to deliver a dime on the move for the touchdown. Dropped it in the bucket beautifully with touch and precision. #GiantsPride #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/TZiuHk264l
— WBG84 (@WBG84) February 2, 2019
My goodness, Haskins was ridiculous down the stretch.
That’s a good sign for a first-year starter because it shows he adjusted to the ways in which teams attacked him (confusing pressure from the secondary, atypical fronts, etc.). Haskins, in a season that could’ve been full of turmoil, was the steadying hand that kept the Buckeyes afloat.
I mean, Ohio State finished as a top-5 team despite the fact:
- Urban Meyer was suspended for the first 3 games
- Preseason All-American Nick Bosa missed nearly the entire season
- Ohio State suffered that embarrassing loss to Purdue
- The OSU defense was mediocre at best
Meanwhile, all Haskins did was keep his head down and deliver the best season ever for a B1G quarterback.
That should be at the top of Haskins’ résumé. The way that he handled the 2018 season was nothing short of remarkable, and it showed exactly why he’ll be a franchise quarterback.
To be clear, I absolutely think that Murray could become that franchise quarterback. At the same time, I think it’s fair to point to the Big 12 defenses he faced (none ranked in the top 25 in scoring) as a reason to give a little bit of pause. Yes, I realize that Mayfield and Patrick Mahomes just took the NFL by storm but they’re different prospects with different mental makeup.
There’s one thing that I wonder about with Murray, and in a way, it’s sort of related to Mayfield.
The proverbial chip on the shoulder of Mayfield helped him get to where he is today. That is, a 2-time walk-on turned Heisman winner/No. 1 overall pick/franchise quarterback.
I’m not sure if Murray has the same “back-against-the-wall” mindset that it’ll take for him to succeed at the next level. He’s always got a professional baseball career in his back pocket if he can’t hack it in the NFL. I’d prefer to not have the guy with the $15 million fallback plan.
I’m not saying Murray is definitely going to treat his NFL career like that because he announced to the world that he’s all in for football. But if I’m making a potential franchise-altering decision and I’m sitting there debating Haskins or Murray, that thought enters my mind. It has to. Talk is cheap. Anybody can write a letter saying they’re all in.
If Murray doesn’t light it up immediately or even if he has a Carson Wentz-like start to his career, why wouldn’t the baseball thought enter his mind? If the baseball out impacts his motivation in any way, it’s something teams at the top of the draft have to seriously. The risk, obviously, is we won’t know if that’ll be the case until years after the pick is made.
That’s what would worry me more than anything size-related when it comes to Murray. Now would I still take him in the first round to roll the dice and hope that he is the second coming of Mayfield? Sure. The guy is electric. If Murray gets the right coaching staff, he could become the next NFL phenomenon.
But if Haskins is on the board, I’m taking him and not looking back.