A few minutes after the Penn State loss to Georgia, Christian Hackenberg announced he was heading for the NFL. This comes as no surprise to just about anyone who follows Penn State football. I really do hope he has a long and successful career in the NFL. I guess I look at him and like many Penn State fans, will wonder what could have been?
If Bill O’Brien had stayed as the coach for a few more seasons and continued to nurture Hackenberg and build an offense around him, would they have been competing for a national championship? I know that is crazy to say, but I feel like he has the talent and at times it seemed like the Nittany Lions had the weapons surrounding him, so just maybe things could have been different.
Unfortunately that is not what happened. I am not sitting here blaming James Franklin. I think he is a good coach. I feel that once he has the players and system he wants, they will be more successful. Adam2 and I talk about this often, college coaches need to be given time, especially if they are bringing a different system. The old coach would have recruited players that fit their system. Anyways, that is not what this post is really about.
A month or so ago, I wrote about how maybe Allen Robinson was the reason Hackenberg looked so great his freshman year. Maybe I was a little harsh with that assessment (or maybe I was not, time will tell). I can definitely see the value in drafting Hackenberg. Hell, I can even understand the rationale of taking him in the first round.
I think Christian Hackenberg could be a great lesson for folks in the NFL who evaluate talent. Allow me to ramble and try to explain what I mean. We always hear these draft experts and scouts say they are looking for a pocket passer and that they want a big QB with a strong arm. However, as soon as the draft comes around, they get caught up in the flash of the RG3s, Manziels, Tebows, and whoever else is the quarterback of the future.
Did you see who the Browns signed to backup Austin Davis? Pat Devlin. Yep, the same Pat Devlin who transferred from Penn State to Delaware because he was the backup to Daryll Clark and figured he should be starting. Shit, look at the Rams this year. Everyone said that Case Keenum was only successful at the University of Houston because he was a system quarterback. Anyone could have been there and put up his numbers.
It falls back to that old question, is Tom Brady a great QB because of Belichick’s system, or does Belichick’s system work because Tom Brady is a great QB? You look around the league and there are a bunch of guys who were never supposed to be anything in the NFL and then there are some who were supposed to be soooo great and yet they are terrible.
Anyways, back to that lesson the NFL could learn. If Hack is successful, then maybe that means some other guys who did not have the greatest numbers in college could also have potential. If he is an abject failure, then maybe these experts really have no clue what they are talking about.
I also look at the success of a guy like Kirk Cousins. Maybe it takes a few years to really adjust and completely understand the NFL. Teams draft these QBs and if they are not winning the Super Bowl within a year or two, they are looking to draft the next one. I guess what I am trying to get at here is that just maybe great quarterbacks are out there and just need to be molded. A big frame, strong arm are great physical attributes, but it really is the intelligence and mindset that make great professional quarterbacks.
Okay, sorry about the long rant there. So where will Christian Hackenberg go? Well, a bunch of mock drafts I have seen have him going to the Texans because of Bill O’Brien. I feel like that will be a tough one for Bill. He has a relationship with him and I think O’Brien believes Hack could eventually be his guy, but what other needs do the Texans have and would Christian be the best available player at that draft position? Yikes, it would be a tough call.
Obviously it will depend on how they all perform at the combine and all of the workouts. It seems like every year there is someone that is down on the draft boards who all of a sudden shoots up because of an unbelievable combine. Here are the guys who are probably ahead of Hackenberg:
-Paxton Lynch, Memphis
-Jared Goff, Cal
-Connor Cook, Michigan State
-Kevin Hogan, Stanford
-Carson Wentz, North Dakota State
-Cardale Jones, Ohio State
If you consider that the following teams probably have some need of a quarterback in the first or second round, then you can start to figure where someone might go, right?
The Saints have Brees, but you have to wonder how many years he has left. Would it be smart to draft the quarterback of the future and start grooming him now. Same goes for the Cowboys and Romo (it is inevitable that he gets hurt next season). I guess the same is true of the Cardinals and Carson Palmer. He is getting up there and finding his replacement would be smart. A guy like Hogan or Cook would probably fit behind Carson Palmer. Cardale Jones is something similar to Hackenberg, in that they are both going to need to be drafted by someone who thinks they can really work them into what they want.
Okay, I am done. It is way too early for NFL draft talk. Who knows what will happen in the next few months.