With two weeks to go before the Washington Redskins begin training camp, there is one position that is still glaringly up for grabs — quarterback.
After Alex Smith broke his leg in a Week 11 game against the Houston Texans, the future for the quarterback position has been wide open. With Smith unlikely to start the season, many questioned whether the 35-year-old veteran will retire, given the severity of the leg break, and if the Redskins would have new options to fill the role.
The choice of who to start will not be left to Head Coach Jay Gruden alone, at least according to Redskins Vice President of Player Personnel Doug Williams. In an interview with NFL Network, Williams said that the decision will be made by a group consisting of himself, Gruden, President Bruce Allen and Owner Dan Snyder.
This offseason, the Redskins made their intentions clear by using the 15th overall pick to draft quarterback Dwayne Haskins out of Ohio State University.
“I don’t want to say he’s going to start game one today, but it’s been a pleasant and enjoyable scene to see what Dwayne Haskins has done over the last few weeks,” Williams said.
While coaches and scouts have praised Haskins’ arm talent and character, he started only one season at Ohio State. Despite his standout performances with the Buckeyes, he lacks playing experience, even for a rookie.
“He has a great skill set,” Gruden said of Haskins. “He can really spin it, without a doubt. But now it is just a matter of transitioning to different defenses, different blitzes, handling the pressure, handling the looks, finding open receivers and delivering the ball. I think he is on a great course right now. He’s getting better every day, from what I have seen.”
Haskins will be competing against two veterans quarterbacks, Case Keenum and Colt McCoy. Keenum, who Washington acquired in a trade from the Denver Broncos this offseason, has taken the bulk of the first-team reps in the team’s offseason training program.
The divide between the three could be experience.
While Gruden has praised Haskins’s physical ability, he has mentioned that his biggest challenge will be adapting to an NFL playbook and terminology. While Keenum is transitioning from another system in Denver, he is a veteran with six seasons of experience on Haskins, meaning he could adjust and learn the system quicker.
While he has the experience, Keenum has not had success — at least last season. He started all 16 games for the Broncos, throwing 18 touchdowns, 15 intercepts and leading Denver to a 6-10 record. That performance led Denver to swap Keenum to Washington for a sixth-round pick.
Like Keenum, Haskins is new to the system given Colt McCoy, as the only incumbent in the quarterback competition an advantage. McCoy has been with the team since 2014 and started two games last year before breaking his leg in a Week 13 game against the Philadelphia Eagles. That injury and its complications have kept McCoy from participating in any of the offseason activities with the team.
“The spring is a great time for teaching but also, there’s an end game in mind in getting all these guys to compete for the job, come fall training camp,” said Offensive Coordinator Kevin O’Connell.
With the injury to his leg, McCoy could miss the start of training camp healthy. However, if he can well enough in time to join the team, it would create a three-quarterback race for the starting job in Washington.
“He would come out there and limp with a leg brace on if he could, but we won’t let him,” Gruden said of McCoy. “We just have to take the process for what it is and listen to the trainers and doctors. When he is fully healed, we’ll get the word and let him go, but he’s still getting the mental reps, which is important.”
The Redskins begin training camp July 25 in Richmond, Va.