Leaf: Teams Should Trade Up For Dwayne Haskins

Drafting a rookie quarterback isn't just necessary; it's smart, Ryan Leaf says

Tiki and Tierney
January 08, 2019 - 11:13 am

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Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins declared for the NFL Draft on Monday, meaning that the Giants (pick No. 6), Jaguars (No. 7), and Broncos (No. 10) could all try to trade up to secure his services.

Is Haskins worth that?

Ryan Leaf says yes.

“I think that you found the teams that are playing in these playoffs are teams that  went out and got their quarterback on rookie contracts,” the former No. 2 overall pick said on Tiki and Tierney. “The guys that are getting paid astronomical amounts of money aren’t playing in the playoffs necessarily – at least some of the big contracts over the last few years. So yeah, you go get your quarterback and you see if he can be your guy. Because of the rookie salary cap, you’re able to go and miss. So go find a guy you think you got, see if he can do it, and then you’ve got a guy to play for three or four years on that rookie contract before the big money comes into play, and maybe you can get a championship.”

The Chiefs with Patrick Mahomes are a perfect example of that.

“They moved up to grab him,” Leaf said. “The Giants, they got a great player last year in Saquon Barkley, but this league runs through franchise quarterbacks, and I think they may have made a mistake of missing on one, especially if they’re just still in limbo on what they’re going to do next year. Saquon had a great year, but they didn’t go anywhere. They’re not in the playoffs.”

Granted, neither are the Browns, Jets, Bills or Cardinals – all of whom drafted quarterbacks in the top 10 last year – but they’ve at least hitched their wagon to the future of their franchise.

“The Jets found their guy, I thought, in Sam Darnold,” Leaf said. “We’ll see what the coaching search looks like there. But it has always been quarterback-driven league, and if you can find a guy in the first three or four years, especially on a rookie contract, you’re able to build around him and give him the pieces to win a championship.”

Haskins, a Heisman Trophy finalist, threw for 50 touchdowns and only eight interceptions for the Buckeyes (13-1), who won the Big Ten and beat Washington in the Rose Bowl.