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Chris Simms on why Mitchell Trubisky and Drew Lock rank ahead of Dwayne Haskins

Chris Simms on why Mitchell Trubisky and Drew Lock rank ahead of Dwayne Haskins

NBC Sports' Chris Simms' ranking of Dwayne Haskins at No. 39 on his Top 40 quarterback list for 2020 was a little jarring at first look. Not just because of where Haskins -- a starter -- ranked, but because of who landed in front of him.

Though Simms recently joined the Redskins Talk Podcast to elaborate on the factors that went into Haskins' placement, there were a few names on the list ahead of the Redskins quarterback that warranted a further explanation on what went it to those decisions.

RELATED: WHY CHRIS SIMMS RANKED DWAYNE HASKINS NO. 39 ON TOP 40 QBS

The first is Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who checked in at No. 38. To sum the former No. 2 overall pick's current situation: it's not great. After a successful 2018 season, Trubisky regressed greatly in 2019. His statline of 3,138 passing yards, 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions doesn't seem all that bad. But, numerous poor decisions and missed throws derailed what was supposed to be a Super Bowl contending year for the Bears.

Trubisky's most recent body of work was so concerning that the passer who was primed to be the future of the franchise had his fifth-year option declined. The Bears also traded for Nick Foles in the offseason, showing Trubisky is no longer a lock to be the starter. 

With that being said, how could a quarterback that has consistently struggled and lost control of the starting spot rank ahead of Haskins? To Simms, it all comes down to the larger body of work. The Redskins quarterback has had limited NFL action, while Trubisky has three years under his belt. Some of it has been ugly, but his work in 2018 was enough for Simms to slot him over the unproven Haskins.

"Right now I did give Mitchell Trubisky the edge because of experience," Simms said. "He has been a starting quarterback in the NFL for three years, he did lead a team to a 12-4 record and in that year they went to the playoffs and he led the team down the field in a clutch drive which ended up being the double doink field goal.”

Despite the current placement of the two, Simms doesn't expect Haskins to trail Trubisky for long. The Bears quarterback may have the advantage of experience for now, but Haskins is the one with more potential. His upside and ceiling is much higher, meaning he can easily make a large jump while Trubisky continues to tread water.

“Do I think Dwayne Haskins has more potential than a Mitchell Trrubisky? Without a doubt," Simms said. "I think Dwayne Haskins has the type of talent to be a top-10 quarterback in football. I don’t think that about Mitchell Trubisky.”

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Another somewhat shocking revelation by Simms was that Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock was his No. 25 ranked quarterback. Lock, like Haskins, was a rookie in 2019 who didn't get a ton of game action. A second-round pick, he started just five games during the later portion of the season after Denver's first two options failed. 

Though Lock and Haskins share a similar amount of NFL playing time, the separation in their rankings is due to Simms' overall expectations for their careers from what he's seen in both college and the pros. Despite Haskins going ahead of Lock in the draft, Simms has always seen Lock are a more elite option since his days at Missouri.  Starting more seasons in college than Haskins, Simms felt that is Lock had left school after his junior year he would have been a clear-cut top pick.

“I had Drew Lock in front of Dwayne Haskins coming out in the draft," Simms said. "I really thought Drew Lock was a total first round talent.” 

Their play in 2019 has only increased his belief that Lock has a slightly higher ceiling. During his five starts, he threw for 1020 yards and seven touchdowns to just three interceptions and went 4-1. It wasn't just the numbers that impressed Simms, though, as the analyst took notice to Lock's intangibles and how the Broncos offense worked with him in charge.

Showing off a rocket arm, an ability to throw from all angles and solid mechanics, Lock awoke a struggling offense in Denver. Though Haskins played well at times, it also looked as if the Redskins were keeping the offense basic for him during his first taste of NFL action. With Lock, it was the opposite. 

“What I got to see in the regular season is a guy that did have command of the offense," Simms said. "In fact, I thought the offense actually expanded with him in the game. Like they took the training wheels off as compared to some of the guys before him.”

“They were special. I mean he made some plays where and had some games where he’s the driving force of the offense. They’re not trying to protect him.”

Lock's initial showing in the NFL not only put him ahead of Haskins currently in the mind of Simms but showed just how special he could be in the future as well. It's not to say Haskins can't be great, but the analyst just has a little more confidence in Lock. 

“I just think he’s a little bit more advanced and experienced than Dwayne Haskins. And honestly, I do like his top-end talent a hair more too, guys.” 

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Ron Rivera might not say it outright but it sounds like Washington is Dwayne Haskins' team

Ron Rivera might not say it outright but it sounds like Washington is Dwayne Haskins' team

Ron Rivera refuses to name Dwayne Haskins the starting quarterback for the Washington Football Team, but listening to the coach's comments about the second-year passer, it sure sounds like it's Haskins job. 

"He’s done a great job of studying, preparing and getting himself ready for this. He’s been great," Rivera said Tuesday morning. "He’s been on the field, doing the things we’ve asked of him. He’s done the extra stuff that he and I talked about in the offseason. He’s done the things that, I think, puts him right there where he needs to be at this junction of where we are in our training, having only been able to do zoom and now only having four days of work on the field."

Much has been made about veteran QB Alex Smith's return from injury. 

Smith's story has been incredible, working his way back from a compound fracture in his leg and 17 surgeries as his body was ravaged by infection. Now Smith is able to work out with trainers at the Washington practice facilities for multiple days without setbacks. It's a remarkable story. 

But there are still major hurdles for Smith to get back on the field, not the least of which is clearing a football physical from the Washington doctors.

"For him, it’s really just a matter of, can he do the movements he needs to do?" Rivera said. "Can he protect himself when he’s on the field more so than anything else?"

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There's another important element to point out and that's the advantage - real or perceived - that Kyle Allen has over Haskins.

Allen started nine games for Rivera and new Washington offensive coordinator Scott Turner last season in Carolina, and found some success. The Panthers won Allen's first four starts, and in those games, he threw no interceptions. Conversely, Carolina lost the last six games Allen started and he threw 11 picks in those contests. 

RELATED: RIVERA PLEASANTLY SURPRISED BY ALEX SMITH IN CAMP

Earlier this offseason Rivera suggested that Allen could have a "leg up" on Haskins based on knowledge of Turner's system. Asked on Tuesday if Haskins still trailed in that department, Rivera did not seem concerned. 

"I don’t think Dwayne is very far behind, I really don’t."

Rivera wants open competition across his football team. No player gets named starter, rather that player earns the job. Sure sounds like Haskins is doing just that when it comes to the starting quarterback spot. 

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With the way Alex Smith has looked so far, Ron Rivera 'can envision' him being in the quarterback mix

With the way Alex Smith has looked so far, Ron Rivera 'can envision' him being in the quarterback mix

Positive reports about Alex Smith's early training camp performance came out over the weekend, and on a Tuesday morning Zoom call with the media, Ron Rivera echoed those reviews.

"He's looked good, he really has," the head coach said. "I'll be honest, I was pleasantly surprised to see how far along he is. It's been exciting to watch his progression."

According to Rivera, Smith has been working off to the side with Washington Football Team trainers at the Ashburn facility and is mirroring what Dwayne Haskins and Kyle Allen are doing, too. Coordinator Scott Turner and QBs coach Ken Zampese are apparently involving Smith as much as they can, and Smith is looking "very fluid" so far.

"It's a tribute to who he is, it's a tribute to his trainers and his doctors who have helped him get where he is today," Rivera said.

That all, of course, is wildly encouraging. The fact that the 36-year-old is in a place where he can check off those boxes and do those activities is astounding. That can't be pointed out enough, either.

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Yet it's also fair to note just how different mimicking a starting signal caller and actually serving as the starting signal caller are. So, is there any real chance of Smith transitioning from that first phase to the second before the season? 

With what he's seen from the veteran so far, Rivera certainly believes there is.

"I can envision it," he said. "The big thing is if he can do the things that we need him to do, that he needs to do to help himself on the football field, he'll be part of the conversation most definitely. He did some really good things last week. He went through all four workout days, had no residual effect the next morning, which is always important because the next day usually tells.

"We'll see how he is this week and we'll go from there."

As Smith continues to rehab and try to make his way off PUP, the challenges are solely physical. Rivera is not worried at all about the veteran having to adjust to a new scheme or dealing with any other mental task; instead, the primary concern is ensuring that Smith can handle the contact that'll come if he makes it back into live action.

"I believe he already knows probably 75-percent of our playbook," Rivera said. "So for him, it's really just a matter of can he do the movements he needs to do? Can he protect himself when he's on the field?"

It feels like every time Smith is brought up, he's taken another step. The next one, however — going from the PUP list to the huddle — is particularly daunting.

But at this point, it's gotten pretty difficult to imagine anything being particularly daunting for Alex Smith. So don't be that floored if he makes it happen. Rivera clearly won't be. 

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