INDIANAPOLIS – Dwayne Haskins’ 50 touchdown passes speak for themselves. His performance on the field during drills on Saturday at the Combine will speak for itself, too. But there will be plenty of times in his NFL career when Haskins will have to do the actual talking.
Which is why the Giants undoubtedly paid very close attention to how the quarterback from Ohio State presented himself in front of the media on Friday. While the Giants are looking for someone who can eventually replace Eli Manning on the field, they’re also cognizant that they will have to replace him off the field.
“Once you’ve seen that they’re a really good player, you’ve got to determine whether they’re a very good decision-maker,” Pat Shurmur said earlier this week regarding quarterbacks. “That crosses over into all areas of their life because we all know what we’re looking for from the face of our franchise. When the game is over, they ask a lot of people what happened. But every week, they ask the head coach and the quarterback what they think. That player is thrust into a position of leadership and being the face of the franchise. So decision-making is important. I think we’re looking for all that.”
General manager Dave Gettleman concurred, using the same terminology.
“It’s a massive decision,” he said of picking a quarterback high in the draft. “I mean this is the face of your franchise. He’s got to do all the right stuff for all the right reasons. You can’t go to bed at night worrying if he’s gonna come in on time. You can’t do that, no matter how talented they are.”
In other words, FOTF is more important than GOAT.
So how did Haskins do? Not bad. He answered all of the questions with a mix of respect and appropriate cockiness. He made no waves. He did not insult anyone to further his own case.
He even seemed to understand exactly what the Giants are looking for.
“Everyone is watching you, you’re the face of the team, your teammates look to you and you’re the first person that comes up,” Haskins said of the peripheral components to the quarterback job. “You have to be able to lead other men. That’s a lot of responsibility.”
Is he up to it?
“Without a doubt, yeah.”
There was one small potential red flag. When he stepped to the podium and looked out at the reporters waiting for him, Haskins groaned audibly and muttered “Oh, man” as if the interview session was going to be a burden. To be fair, plenty of people feel that way on both sides of the microphones from time to time. Once the questions started flying, though, he was engaged and pleasant.
Not all of the quarterbacks fared as well. Kyler Murray came off as defensive and uninformed when he addressed Bryce Harper’s baseball contract and said quarterbacks make more. He’s also had some other unimpressive media moments in the past few weeks that likely will leave teams wary (Google his appearance with Dan Patrick during Super Bowl week). Will Grier called himself the best quarterback in the draft and said he would have been the best quarterback in last year’s draft, too. Drew Lock gave himself a 10 out of 10 in passing accuracy but said he has room to improve. A lot of headline fodder that could scare a team like the Giants that prefers to have their games on the backpages and not their soundbites.
The Giants will have to determine what all of it means. They were scheduled to meet with Haskins on Friday night for their 15-minute interview. It’ll be quick. There will be questions about formations and plays, about his triumphs and failures. But mostly it will be about getting a sense of who Haskins is. It is the speed-dating aspect of the Combine, and Haskins, who has already met with three teams on Thursday, will have seven others besides the Giants to try to impress on Friday.
“It’s only 15 minutes, but you can get a little bit of a feel for it,” Gettleman said of the Combine interviews. “The private visit stuff [later in the process] is where you really can learn so much about a guy.”
The Giants have a lot to learn about Haskins and all the quarterbacks before they make any decisions. But this weekend at least gave them a glimpse of what they can expect if any of them are to become the FOTF.