INDIANAPOLIS — Teams select players in the draft, but if it worked the opposite way, Dwayne Haskins made it pretty clear whom he’d be picking.
“Growing up in New Jersey, I grew up a Giants fan, so it would be a dream come true as far as being able to go back home where my family is and play for that great franchise,” the Ohio State quarterback told reporters on Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “[Whatever] way it happens throughout this process, I’m going to be excited to be in the NFL. But of course, New York would be a great spot for me.”
He was scheduled to meet formally with the Giants on Friday night, but just about every answer he gave during his 15 minutes in front of the media earlier in the day seemed tailored to that team’s expectations. One-by-one, he went down the checklist the Giants likely have as they search for their next franchise quarterback, and one-by-one, he checked the boxes.
If the Giants decide to move forward with the “Kansas City Model” that general manager Dave Gettleman suggested he’d like to follow as he transitions from one quarterback to the next, would he be OK sitting for a year behind Eli Manning?
He said he’d point to his year and a half sitting behind J.T. Barrett at Ohio State before getting the chance to become a full-time starter for the first time in 2018.
“I’m comfortable enough to learn from someone who has been there in front of me,” he said. “Know that I’m going to compete and be ready for when my time is called . . . Being able to learn from [Barrett] was probably more beneficial than playing.”
Both Gettleman and coach Pat Shurmur said that in selecting a quarterback, filling the “face of the franchise” role is just as important as arm strength and mobility.
Haskins understands that. “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,” he said of that 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.”
His news conference offered a glimpse of that poise and maturity.
As far as questions about his athleticism and mobility, those will be answered on the field Saturday when he takes part in the combine drills. As of Friday, he was able to dismiss them only verbally.
“Ha!” he said when asked for his reaction to those who think he is too slow. “That’s what I think about that.”
He added that he may not be the quickest quarterback in the draft or the one to make the most plays with his legs, but “I can maneuver if I need to,” he said. “I’m deadly in the pocket.”
He even said he doesn’t care where he’s picked in this draft, whether it’s first or second overall — he and Ohio State pass rusher Joey Bosa have joked about going 1-2 — or with, say, the sixth selection. His goal is not to be the first quarterback drafted, he said, but to be the top quarterback when this draft is looked back on.
Haskins also would arrive at the Giants with a close friend already on the team.
“I’ve known Saquon [Barkley] since I was a sophomore in high school,” he said. “We both went to the Rivals camp together and I’ve kept close with him. I’ve talked to a few of their other skill players, but I feel like they have a lot of great talent offensively and it would be a lot of fun.”
He said playing quarterback in an offense with Barkley, Odell Beckham Jr. and Evan Engram would be “prolific.”
Last year, Beckham had plenty of pre-draft conversations with Barkley during which they spoke about playing together. It felt as if they spoke Barkley’s selection with the second overall pick into existence.
Who else on the Giants has been in Haskins’ ear about that possibility this winter? Beckham again? Sterling Shepard? Manning?
“I can’t tell you,” Haskins said with a grin.
Maybe in April he’ll share that one . . . after returning to the state where he was born and the team for which he grew up rooting.
“We’ll see what happens.”