NY Jets: The case for Christian Hackenberg
By Mike Nash
The NY Jets are still looking for a franchise quarterback. Few players have gone through what Christian Hackenberg did in his three years in college.
Coming out of high school, Hackenberg was arguably the top rated quarterback heading to college, and in his case, he was headed to Happy Valley PA, Penn State. At this time though, things were far from happy at the university. The school and team was just getting over the Jerry Sandusky scandal, one of the worst scandals in history. Penn State lost multiple scholarships, and was banned from bowl games.
Hackenberg was named the starter his freshman year under Head Coach Bill O’Brien, who now is the coach of the Houston Texans. In his first season, the big right hander finished with 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions and 2,955 yards. A tremendous season for the first year freshman through all of the drama around Penn State.
Unfortunately for Hackenberg, this would be his best season at Penn State. O’Brien left for the NFL the next year and James Franklin took over as head coach. For the next two seasons at Penn State, Hackenberg struggled. Ultimately, the offensive line struggled almost every week, leaving the star quarterback trying to run for his life and stay healthy. This is why many people have such a hard time judging Hackenberg. Many see the talent he had his freshman year, but his last two seasons were not close to that same performance.
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When it comes to the Jets, I feel Hackenberg would be a great fit.
Even if the Jets bring back Ryan Fitzpatrick, which is almost a guarantee, the team clearly does not trust Geno Smith and Bryce Petty is nothing more than a project quarterback in development.
Hackenberg’s strengths as a quarterback are typical for your usual pocket passer. He possesses a strong arm, solid accuracy and is incredibly durable. While all of these traits are important, I feel he possesses one trait that is crucial in the NFL.
Hackenberg is a leader. What Hackenberg went through at Penn State proved that he can overcome obstacles and stay committed through tough times. In the NFL today, earning the respect of your teammates and proving you can remain tough through rough periods of times are crucial.
If I had to guess, I would bet that Hackenberg will be a 2nd round pick, and if I am the Jets, I am taking a hard look at him. As mentioned earlier, in my opinion the Jets next franchise quarterback is not on the roster. The Jets will probably get one or two more years out of Fitzpatrick as the starter, but the team needs to look for their next quarterback without question.
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While he is not a sure thing, Hackenberg would benefit greatly from learning behind Fitzpatrick for a season or two. His talent is clear and would have the ability to withstand the tough New York media. In my opinion, some team is going to get a great player in Hackenberg, personally, I am hoping that team turns out to be the Jets.