For the New York Jets, Christian Hackenberg has great potential to develop into a franchise quarterback as long as the team is patient and uses a proper plan with his development.
Coming from Fork Union Military Academy,Christian Hackenberg was arguably the top rated quarterback in his 2013 recruiting class. The bar was set high for his expectations heading into State College, Pennsylvania as he earned the starting quarterback job as a true freshman for the Penn State Nittany Lions.
Hackenberg played tremendously as a true freshman under current Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien who is seen as a quarterback guru. Hackenberg was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2013 and a Freshman All-American. Hackenberg put up 2,955 passing yards, 20 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions along with a 58.9% completion percentage, which all was the best season of his three-year college career.
O’Brien left Penn State for the Houston Texan head coaching job after Hackenberg’s freshman season and Hackenberg simply did not live up to his hype the next two seasons of his college career. Hackenberg’s sophomore season was the most inconsistent and the lowest statistics of all three seasons.
Hackenberg put up the most yards of his college career with 2,977 passing yards, but this was on the most attempts of his college career with 484. Hackenberg only eclipsed 400 passing attempts in his sophomore season.
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Besides passing yards, Hackenberg had college career lows in touchdowns and completion percentage and a college career high in interceptions.
Hackenberg posted his lowest quarterback rating of all three of his college seasons in his sophomore season as well.
Hackenberg’s third college season was a true roller coaster.
He continued to show flashes as to why he has the potential to be an NFL franchise quarterback, but also had some questionable plays at time.
Hackenberg had the lowest passing attempts and completion percentage of his college career, but his second highest passing yards and passing touchdowns and his lowest interceptions.
Hackenberg declared for the 2016 NFL Draft after his junior season and his draft expectations from evaluators was all over the place. Hackenberg had the potential to be a top pick in the draft, but at the same time has plays on his film that would make you want to avoid taking a chance on him at all. Of all 32 teams, one team was definitely going to be willing to take the chance on the kid with tremendous potential and this team was the New York Jets.
The Jets invested the 51st overall selection in the 2nd round of this year’s draft on Hackenberg. The Jets are coming off a franchise best year for a quarterback with Ryan Fitzpatrick, but he is not the future of the team as he will turn 34-years-old this season. Quarterback Geno Smith has had an up and down career with the Jets and was not drafted by the current regime. The Jets invested a fourth round selection for quarterback Bryce Petty in the 2015 NFL Draft, but he is a true project and his development as a pro-style quarterback has been slow to this point.
Jul 28, 2016; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg (5) passes during training camp at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
The Jets are hopeful Hackenberg is the franchise quarterback the team has been searching for. Hackenberg has the prototypical size and arm strength you want in a starting quarterback, but his mechanics will surely need some tuning. Hackenberg has the leadership teams want for a franchise quarterback as he was voted team captain twice at Penn State and was praised by his teammates and coaches for his leadership skills.
Hackenberg needs a year to hold the clipboard in the NFL and learn from Fitzpatrick as this is not Hackenberg’s time to lead the team yet. Hackenberg needs to improve his accuracy issues if he wants to succeed as a professional. He struggled consistently with ball placement to his receivers and this must be corrected to become a high level NFL quarterback. He also needs to be more aware of releasing the ball at a faster pace as he continued to hold on to the ball for too long and was sacked 82 times in his last two college seasons.
Hackenberg has a lot of strengths to go along with his weaknesses and has the potential to develop into a franchise quarterback. The Jets must be patient with Hackenberg and not rush the kid into playing time as he needs the time to develop his game. He must put the time in the weight room, film room and on the field if he wants to prove to the Jets he was worthy of his draft selection. Hackenberg has true potential to boom or bust, but if he puts the proper work ethic in he has a great chance to correct his weaknesses and boom. The Jets took a risk investing an early selection in Hackenberg, but the team hopefully has its franchise quarterback for the future.