Don't Expect Hackenberg Any Time Soon
In the second round of the 2016 draft the Jets selected Christian Hackenberg, a quarterback from Penn State. Media and fans went into frenzy once one of the nation’s most promising freshmen, whom looked like a number 1 overall pick, began to head on a steady decline. So why did the Jets go as high as they did to select Hackenberg? The answer is potential. Every draft year, there is a player out there that is just a big boom or bust prospect, and this year it is Hackenberg.
There are both positives and negative in Hackenberg’s game tape. Standing at 6 feet 4 inches, 225 pounds, with a great frame, looks the part of a franchise quarterback, and with a rocket arm, what’s not to love about the pick. He displays good feet within the pocket and makes quick decisions on intermediate routes, screens, and 3 step drops. When he is able to set his feet, he can hit any throw on short passes and is able to fit them into tight spots in the defense. He keeps his eyes down field when stepping up in the pocket. He has shown the ability to go under center in his freshmen year and run a pro style offense under Bill O’Brein, his coach at the time who is now the head coach of the Houston Texans.
With that being said, there are many negatives to Hackenberg’s game that put the unknown in his potential. He tends to get stuck on his first read for too long. His footwork is very messy at times which causes him not to be able to step into throws, leading to inaccurate passes we see so often on his game tape. When his footwork is too wide, the ball tends to sail away from his targets. He doesn’t have exceptional touch on long throws down field, which leads to trouble in interceptions. When he has pressure in his face, he doesn’t make wise decisions and bad throws. Hackenberg has a tendency to not anticipate a route a receiver is running, will wait for them to get open, and often times throwing into coverage.
Overall Hackenberg is a project, with a ton of potential. I don’t expect to see him come close to the field this year. He has a big arm that can reach anywhere on the field. He will need to work on his footwork and be consistent with it before the staff feels confident to put him on the field. Hackenberg who has a good football IQ, will have to expand it more by knowing pre snap reads. This is why the Jets feel we have to wait on this kid. No need to feed him to the wolves lets do this the right way and develop a quarterback. This franchise deserves one!