In this 2016 NFL Draft profile, we look at the strengths and weaknesses of quarterback Christian Hackenberg out of Penn State.
Hackenberg was a star in the making when he committed to play football at Penn State University. When the coach at the time Bill O’Brien was able to convince him to stay home, it was overshadowed by the Jerry Sandusky scandal. When players had the choice to transfer or stay he made the decision in staying and wanted to help bring this program back to what it use to be. When he started his freshman year on the team, he became an instant sensation winning the BIG 10 Freshman Player of the Year award. After his freshman year and O’Brien leaving to the NFL, Hackenberg was never the same and struggled tremendously.
When it comes to quarterbacks coming out of college, many NFL teams want to see how strong their arm is and that’s what Christian has that most of the others don’t. He was ranked second amongst other quarterback prospects to have the strongest arm in this year’s draft class.
He has decent speed in being able to escape from the pocket which is very important. When he is under pressure, he is able to control himself and have excellent poise in the pocket and not get nervous during key moments.
Nov 28, 2015; East Lansing, MI, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenberg (14) drops back to pass the ball during the 2nd half of a game against the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
Most quarterbacks that are in the NFL or are in the draft are unable to make the throw on the run effectively but Hackenberg has been able to do it very successfully. Throughout his collegiate career, he has made some impressive throws on the run in key game situations. He should be able to adjust to the pro-style of offense in the NFL because in college all he knew was a play action type of offense but he has a high football IQ so it should come naturally to him.
The problem like most rookie quarterbacks in the NFL have is bad accuracy and that they aren’t consistent enough to make the transition into the pros. Hackenberg has thrown too many passes that were too far or behind or too short that wide receivers have trouble making plays on the ball.
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He needs to have better footwork because he seems to be too flat footed a lot during games.
If he is too flat footed than he is unable to establish any power behind the ball. He also needs to learn how to throw the ball away and not to try to force passes down the field.
During games throughout his career, he doesn’t throw the ball away to keep the drive alive. He needs to learn when the play is dead that to get rid of it and not to make any mental mistakes. He needs to learn how to read when the blitzes are coming at him and to change the play at the line of scrimmage.
Hackenberg also needs to learn how not to stare down his receivers in giving away where the ball is headed. It will be a very important thing for him to learn how to read complex coverages and what to check down for. He never seem to look at things before getting under center as he tends to rush into things before they even start to come into fruition. He speeds the game up when he needs to play at a normal speed and feel comfortable under center.
DRAFT DAY PREDICTION
Hackenberg will more than likely be drafted in the mid to late second or third round (59-66 pick) in this year’s draft. He seems like has the potential to be a good player but he has a lot to fix in his game before he takes his career to the next level.