When it comes to drafting players, especially quarterbacks, it’s never good to overreach. Sadly, the trading of Christian Hackenberg confirms the New York Jets had him held to a higher regard than what he truly was.
I’m the commissioner of my fantasy football league 10 years running. And I’ve seen it at least a dozen times. One of the “owners” has a feeling about a guy. And it’s easy to fall for someone of whom you have limited knowledge. Because it’s exciting. He represents hope for the future of your franchise – whether it’s a real one or a fake one. And you fall hard for the idea that he can be the spark that ignites your team and carries them to victory – whether it’s a real one or a fake one.
In 2013, one of the owners in my league, Todd, famously selected New York Giants running back David Wilson 13th overall. It was an obvious reach at the time, as the pick was made purely on potential, as he hadn’t proven anything.
He could have easily been had a round later. But Todd fell hard for that potential, and he took a chance on it. Wilson rushed 44 times for 146 yards that season. The fact that many of you have already forgotten his name proves the point.
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When Mike Maccagnan drafted Christian Hackenberg with the 51st overall pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, it was widely regarded as a reach. But like a fantasy football owner, he likely assumed he’d be gone by the time it was his pick again. And he didn’t want to miss getting “his guy.”
Hackenberg had what many analysts have called “prototypical size and arm strength.” That’s surely what had the Jets GM swooning on draft night. But as the record has shown so far, there was a reason Maccagnan was alone on that limb.
Everyone wants to be the clever one who discovers the band no one else is talking about, the one who figures out the riddle that has stumped so many others. The disastrous flipside to that is when you swing and miss so hard, you lose two years spinning in circles.
Now, the Oakland Raiders have traded a conditional seventh-round pick to the Jets for Hackenberg, in hopes of converting the one-time golden boy to a reliable backup for incumbent starter Derek Carr – as Gang Green basks in the glory of having the QB of their dreams fall into their laps on draft night 2018.
Only time will tell if Sam Darnold is remembered with the same level of regret, but one thing is certain – he can’t be called a reach.