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11 for 11 draft series: Can Dwayne Haskins get Cincinnati over the hump?

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After seeming as if he would be out of reach, one of the classes best quarterback prospects could be available at No. 11 for the Bengals.

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Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual - Washington v Ohio State Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

For the first time in a while, we don’t really know the Bengals’ mindset when it comes to this year’s first round selection. The Marvin Lewis regime didn’t necessarily tip its hand often, but some classes became obvious with positional need.

This year’s crop will definitely be a blend of need and best player available, as Zac Taylor rounds up his very first group as a head coach. The young head guy is keeping things close-to-the-vest, as we really don’t know how he sees certain position groups as they are currently comprised.

One of those positions is quarterback. We’ve seen great, bad and ugly over the years from Andy Dalton, and he’s coming off of a season in which he ended the year with an injury—his second in four seasons.

Still, Dalton has played under a coach with a defensive background, as well as four coordinators in eight seasons. Taylor and new offensive coordinator Brian Callahan just might provide the stability Dalton needs for a 2019 renaissance.

Dwayne Haskins is one of the most intriguing players in this year’s draft. With just one year of college experience, albeit incredibly productive experience, scouts are both drooling over skill set and questioning his NFL ceiling.

There have been rumblings that the Giants could grab him as high as No. 6 overall, but now he may be readily available when the Bengals go on the clock at No. 11. Might he be too goo to pass up at that spot for Cincinnati and their new regime?

Why the pick makes sense:

  • For all of the good he has done for the Bengals over the past eight seasons, Andy Dalton is 0-4 as a starter in the postseason.
  • Haskins has played well in many of the biggest games last year. In six of the biggest contests of the year (Washington, TCU, Michigan State, Michigan, Penn State, and Northwestern), which includes the Rose Bowl, he threw 23 touchdowns against just three interceptions.
  • Cincinnati may have too good of a roster to “tank” and get the necessary picks needed to grab a Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert, or Trevor Lawrence in the next couple of drafts.
  • If the board falls a certain way—many defensive linemen and at least one linebacker gone—Haskins could very well provide immense draft value at No. 10 overall.
  • Haskins is Pro Football Focus’ No. 10 player in the class and he’s 12th on CBS Sports’ list.
  • He spearheaded a team with nearly 5,000 passing yards, along with 50 touchdown passes, a 70 percent completion percentage and 174.1 rating. All of these areas led to 13 wins in 2018 under Haskins.
  • Haskins can navigate the pocket pretty well, creating things from plays that have broken down.
  • Regardless of which young quarterback the Bengals take, there is surrounding skill position talent to aid them. This is especially true if Cincinnati extends A.J. Green and/or Tyler Boyd, which seems relatively likely.
  • Haskins is accustomed to playing in bad weather through the BIG 10. Whether it was in his home stadium, or the many outdoor venues throughout the conference, the former Buckeye threw well in tough elements. If he lands in Cincinnati, this will be key to the yearly schedule.
  • While the Bengals are a patient franchise, Taylor hasn’t built up the “trust equity” that Lewis had with ownership. Thus, his leash could be short and Taylor will need to find “his guy” sooner, rather than later. If Haskins falls into their laps, the team would be hard-pressed to say no.

Why the pick doesn’t make sense:

  • The best route, at least for the immediate future, might be to see what Dalton can do in what should be an innovative system from Taylor.
  • Recent rumors, which run unfoundedly rampant this time of year, have fans and the media higher on Haskins than NFL teams.
  • The “one-year wonder” aspect. Last time the Bengals selected a quarterback with that lack of experience for a franchise player designation, Akili Smith set the team back for nearly half a decade.
  • While there is definite talent at the position this year, it’s still one of the weaker classes in recent memory. Might the Bengals be better served to engage in a “bridge year” with Dalton in 2019 and get a premium player at the position in deeper 2020 and 2021 classes?
  • If you take Hall of Fame executive Gil Brandt’s word with any stock, he has Haskins as his 25th-best player in the class.
  • How much of Haskins’ success is predicated on immense surrounding talent with the Buckeyes?
  • He’s not overly-nimble, as evidenced by his 5.04 time in the 40-yard dash. So, while he was able to buy time in the pocket in college, his escapability might be limited with superior athletes in the NFL.
  • Zac Taylor may have more time to right the Bengals’ ship than we’re giving him credit for, so he shouldn’t have to “settle” for a quarterback this year, if he isn’t overly-enamored with one.
  • With his one year of college ball, he may need a year or two to sit and learn the pro game.

While Haskins would be a bit of a surprise at No. 11, it would show a true changing of the guard in Cincinnati. He probably wouldn’t be a guy who they would rely upon as an immediate starter, but if he pans out, he could be one of the more effective passers in the league for years. It’s a big if, though, because Haskins is a bit of a boom-or-bust player.

What would you think about the Bengals drafting Dwayne Haskins at No. 11?