The New York Jets selected Christian Hackenberg No. 51 overall in the 2016 NFL Draft, which is probably the worst possible thing that could have happened to the Penn State product.
— New York Jets (@nyjets) April 30, 2016
A guy with all the physical tools teams want at the quarterback position, Hackenberg has a fatal flaw: He is not an accurate passer.
People will point to the fact that Hackenberg was hit a ton during his tenure at Penn State. That’s not wrong. He was hit. A ton. But so was Andrew Luck. So was Peyton Manning. So was Jared Goff.
Hackenberg has the gun teams covet, has the size to stand tall in the pocket and looks the part, but he just hasn’t shown the ability to consistently deliver the ball where it needs to be when it needs to get there.
In his three years playing for the Nittany Lions, Hackenberg completed 56.1 percent of his passes. Folks, that’s not much better than Jake Locker’s college stats at Washington, and we all saw how that played out for him in the NFL.
Inaccurate passers don’t usually become accurate in the NFL, where the windows get tighter and the need for precision is all the more important.
This is a huge problem, and to be quite honest it’s not much different from what we saw with Mark Sanchez when he entered the league back in 2009.
But it’s not the only problem.
Hackenberg hasn’t exactly shined in the media, and he’s now headed to the sports media capital of the United States.
He infamously threw his head coach, James Franklin, under the bus and blamed him for his struggles this past year. He also acquitted himself poorly in interviews, per Robert Klemko of MMQB:
“Per two personnel sources on two separate teams who have shown interest in drafting Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg, the quarterback has said all the wrong things in interviews when asked to explain his declining sophomore and junior numbers (a combined 28 touchdowns and 21 interceptions). Hackenberg has shifted blame to coach James Franklin, who took over in 2014 when coach Bill O’Brien departed for the Texans. Said one evaluator: “Despite the fact that it’s probably true, you don’t want to hear a kid say that.”
The media in the Big Apple will chew him up and spit him out if he pulls anything like that with the Jets.
Furthermore, even while the team isn’t planning on throwing him to the fire early, at some point he will have to play and play well to avoid the intense scrutiny that has sunk so many other former Jets quarterbacks.
The Jets should have taken Connor Cook before considering Hackenberg. He’s battle-tested and has much thicker skin. He’s also inaccurate but is a proven winner who knows how to gut out tough games.
Instead, New York took a huge gamble in Round 2 taking the Penn State quarterback who has never shown anything more than potential since his high school days at Fork Union Military Academy.
You’ve been warned, Jets fans. This won’t end well.