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The critical measures of a successful coach are wins and championships. After ending his Ohio State tenure with a Rose Bowl triumph over Washington, Urban Meyer will head into retirement having left no room for debate in those categories.
And in 17 years leading Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and Ohio State, Meyer developed NFL talent at a stellar rate. So far, 75 players have heard their names called in the draft after playing under Meyer the season prior; that number will crest to 80 in 2019.
Despite that remarkable resume, one achievement has eluded Meyer: producing an elite pro quarterback.
But in his Buckeyes finale, Meyer watched Dwayne Haskins put the finishing touches on a brilliant three-game stretch and a season that screamed “franchise quarterback.”
The redshirt sophomore hit on 25 of his 37 passes for 251 yards and three scores en route to offensive player of the game honors. Haskins showed tremendous touch to every area of the field, consistently superb ball placement, a live arm and quickness in his progressions.
That performance followed a 396-yard, six-touchdown obliteration of an elite Michigan defense and a 499-yard, five-score day against Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship Game.
His stats now final, Haskins paced the Football Bowl Subdivision in yards (4,831) and touchdowns (50) with a 70.0 completion percentage—in his first year as a starter. He’s still relatively inexperienced and did that.
He is Meyer’s last NFL hope—and arguably the brightest one yet.
Haskins appears destined to be the first quarterback selected in the 2019 draft, particularly since Oregon’s Justin Herbert will return for his senior year.
Bucky Brooks @BuckyBrooks
It’s kinda interesting watching Dwayne Haskins and Justin Herbert on back to back days. Everyone assumed that Herbert was the unanimous No.1, if both underclassmen came out but Haskins has definitely been more consistent and is a cleaner QB prospect. He’s not consolation prize
Haskins would join Alex Smith and Tim Tebow as the only Meyer quarterbacks who were first-round picks. Additionally, five other Meyer signal-callers—Josh Harris, Chris Leak, Braxton Miller, Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett—signed NFL contracts.
But they didn’t exactly set a high bar.
Smith is the unquestioned bright spot of Meyer’s legacy, a status that is simultaneously underappreciated and not especially impressive.
The 14-year veteran holds a 94-66-1 career record and has started a playoff game in five seasons. Conversely, he developed a reputation for risk-averse, checkdown passes. Smith has never been an All-Pro, starting only one conference championship game and zero Super Bowls.
Tebow enjoyed one special season in 2011, helping the Denver Broncos win the AFC West and an overtime playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. But his NFL career lasted three years.
Otherwise, Jones has 11 attempts. Miller shifted to wide receiver before he left Ohio State. None of the other three quarterbacks threw a pass during a regular-season game.
Haskins’ expectations will be significantly higher.
Nick Wass/Associated Press
Yes, that comes with draft status. Late-draft and undrafted players have low-percentage hit rates, whereas a first-rounder like Smith or Tebow is supposed to contribute quickly. Whichever team selects Haskins will have a path to a starting role in mind.
And it’s easy to understand why.
Haskins can process and adjust quickly, leading to surgical efficiency. That mental prowess will allow for a cleaner transition to the NFL. The strengths on his scouting report will also feature the elite traits necessary for a successful pro career.
Strong arm? Check. Timing? You bet. Placement? Got it.
Ian Wharton @NFLFilmStudy
My goodness what a throw on the corner route. Timing, placement, zip. Excellent. https://t.co/3fi3u2Luhw
No, he’s not a perfect prospect. Haskins’ footwork and activity rate in the pocket must be refined, and his mobility is largely limited to buying extra time.
That’s a distinct change from previous Meyer quarterbacks, who regularly put up decent numbers but were most effective when running. Yet with the help of offensive coordinator Ryan Day, Meyer’s replacement, Haskins thrived as a pass-first, pass-second talent.
When the draft arrives in April, Haskins should be the most promising option.
In fairness to the redshirt sophomore, he said he is “50-50” on whether to declare for the draft or return to college, per Dan Hope of Eleven Warriors. However, perception and circumstance mean 2019 is an ideal time to pursue the NFL.
And with every success at the next level, Haskins will move one step closer to filling a sizable void in Meyer’s legacy.