INDIANAPOLIS — Dwayne Haskins Jr. always expected to be at the NFL combine this year.
It didn’t matter that the quarterback hadn’t started a game at Ohio State until 2018. He believed in his heart from the time he enrolled that he would be ready for the pros as soon as he finished the required three years of college.
Haskins has never been afraid of setting goals, mentioning to a large throng of reporters around him Friday the now-famous video of him as a young boy predicting he would become an Ohio State quarterback.
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“I write my goals down and I go achieve them,” he said. “I wanted to be three-and-done in college. Whether that was three years starting, two years starting or one year starting, I knew I just (needed) the opportunity to play.”
After two years of waiting and learning behind J.T. Barrett, Haskins had a dazzling season. He broke numerous Ohio State and Big Ten passing records and was a Heisman Trophy finalist.
Even though he was coy late in the season about whether he would head to the NFL, he revealed the truth on Friday.
“It wasn’t a hard decision,” he said. “I knew once I got through the season, I’d put enough on film. I threw for 4,800 yards. I left some yards on the field, some TDs on the field. I know I can get better and I have a lot of potential, so I felt I could make the jump.”
Haskins and Heisman winner Kyler Murray from Oklahoma are considered the top quarterbacks in the draft. Haskins said it isn’t that important to him to be the first one taken.
“I’m not worried about Kyler,” he said. “I’ve got to worry about me. I’m going to do what I need to do in meetings and on the field tomorrow to showcase my talents. I know I’m a franchise quarterback and I’m going to be a really great quarterback in the NFL.
“For me, it’s being with the right franchise, being with the right team and winning a Super Bowl. Whether that’s first quarterback taken or second quarterback taken, it’s all a blessing.”
Unlike Murray, Haskins will work out for NFL teams on Saturday. Haskins said in the past that he hasn’t been nervous for a game since his sophomore year of high school. He is equally sure of himself dissecting playbooks in interviews with NFL teams.
“All of them said I was the most impressive quarterback that they talked to,” Haskins said. “I feel I do a really good job being able to articulate what I’m seeing, what I’m doing before the play, what I’m doing after the play, why I’m going to the line of scrimmage on certain protections and IDs and being able to say that at a high level.”
Haskins can make all the throws, but he isn’t the fleetest afoot. When it was suggested that he might lack mobility in the pocket, he dismissed it with a “ha.”
But he smiled when asked about ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith’s much-ridiculed comment that he was a run-first quarterback.
“I can maneuver if I need to,” he said, “but I’m deadly in the pocket.”
Next month, Haskins’ NFL dream will come true. Asked whether he was ready to become the face of a franchise, as a first-round quarterback must be, Haskins answered with characteristic self-assurance.
“Without a doubt,” he said.