Dwayne Haskins' NFL struggles were a 'big mark' against Justin Fields

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How quarterback Dwayne Haskins performed in the NFL may have contributed to fellow Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields plummeting in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

In speaking with talent evaluators around the league, former NFL tight end Logan Paulsen says Haskins' name came up frequently when he would ask about Fields.

"One of the things in my evaluation of him that made me very worried was how he processed stuff, and that's something when I talked to people repeatedly, that's something that came up a lot," Paulsen told The Sports Junkies on Friday.

"And then to be totally fair," he said, "I think Dwayne Haskins and how he fared in the NFL was a big mark on him, even though it has nothing to do with him."

Fields was widely considered to be the consensus No. 2 pick for months leading up to the draft, but was surpassed BYU's Zach Wilson, both in the court of public opinion and, ultimately, in the draft. Wilson was selected second overall by the Jets Thursday night and Fields — who went to the Bears at pick No. 11 — wound up being the fourth quarterback taken, behind North Dakota State's Trey Lance who went No. 3 to San Francisco.

"A lot of guys brought that up when I spoke with them about him," Paulsen said. "They'd say, 'Well, you know, Ohio State quarterbacks don't do really well in the NFL,' and they would always bring up Haskins. So if I'm Fields, I'm gonna punch Haskins in the face when I see him, probably."

Haskins was selected 15th overall by Washington in 2019 and sputtered through parts of two seasons before being released prior to the conclusion of the 2020 season. He's since caught on with the Steelers.

Asked how difficult it is for a quarterback to improve on his processing ability, Paulsen replied, "I think it can be really challenging, and it just depends on what they're asking him to do. That's the hardest thing in the evaluation process, in my opinion."

"You can see what they're looking at, you can see kind of a concept," he said. "You can say this is how it should be read or read at an NFL level, but what are they asking him to do, how are they asking him to do it? And maybe he's got this tremendous ability to process stuff but they just didn't ask him to do it [at Ohio state]."

"And so, maybe he gets to the NFL and he picks it up like that," Paulsen continued. "Or maybe he really struggles with it like Dwayne did. I think it's really hard. And that's why this process is so, so challenging, because you're grading what you see on tape, you're grading the interviews, you're grading the physical qualities, and you've kind of got to aggregate all of that data into one thing and kind of come up with what you think this guy's gonna be."

"So I think Fields could be an outstanding football player if he can get that stuff corrected," he added. "And there are guys who correct it relatively easily, and there are guys on the other hand who don't, and they struggle, and those guys are well documented."

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