The NFL Combine Field Workouts start in under a week, but some of the participants are flying in today. Who is a QB under-the-radar to watch during the Combine?
Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg.
People must forget that, according to Rivals.com, Hackenberg was one of only two pro-style QBs in the class of 2013 that had five stars. The other one being Max Browne. Hackenberg’s stock has been slowly falling since his sophomore season. Scouts have stopped watching him ever since. But, he still could be a great choice for a team in the second round.
Bill O’Brien was Hackenberg’s coach in his first year after in Happy Valley. It was also the season in which he threw the most touchdowns of his career, had the best passer rating, and most importantly was sacked the least. But after O’Brien he had to get used to a new head coach, so 2014 was his probably his worst year. It has been on record that him and James Franklin did not meet eye-to-eye. But after that year, he helped his stock a lot. In 2015, he threw only 6 INTs, which is career low. And he also posted a passer rating of 123.9, which is only lower than his freshman’s passer rating.
Hackenberg can bring a lot to the NFL and maybe has the traditional game that most teams are still looking for in the NFL. He has the big body scouts look for in a QB. He is 6’4” and 236 pounds. And has a very good arm talent. He throws with zip, and can also throw the deep ball with ease. From his first year in college, he threw NFL throws so that is no problem for him. The combine should be where he shines. We all should remember that Hackenberg is pretty level-headed kid. He managed the fallout from the Paterno-era, and handled having a new head coach in his sophomore year. These things all should help him score high on the Wonderlic Test at the Combine. He needs to work on reading defenses better and have a better feel for pressure in the pocket. When he can master theses two things, the game will slow down for him and he will be a great QB. He might be the QB other teams look at back on in 4-6 years and will mad they missed on him.
One more thing that should be taken into account is that he was coached by Bill O’Brien and the Texans need a QB. Since they need a lot more than just a QB, they could go fill one of those other needs with the 22nd pick. The Texans need RB, DE, or maybe even a WR to complement DeAndre Hopkins. And they can get a QB in the second round. If they wait until the second round to fill the QB position they will probably pick Christian Hackenberg of Penn State.
We all know the Cowboys need a steady backup and why get one in the first round or even the second round if you have a QB like Tony Romo. Yes, he is injury-prone but, he is still an elite QB talent. The Cowboys could definitely use a RB, a WR, and probably what they need the most could be another shutdown CB. Maybe even get another OL but I would pick that up in the second round and get one of the other 3 position in the first round. If the Cowboys could get Hackenberg in the third round it could be the steal of the draft. Hackenberg was sacked over 100 times in his collegiate career and kept ticking, so durability is strong suit for him. Behind one of the best Offensive Lines in the NFL, Hackenberg should not see the turf if he is behind center in a game. He could be under Tony Romo for a couple of years learn under him and take over whenever he leaves.
This QB draft class is very inflated. Almost all, maybe except Jared Goff could start right away and do well, but only if he has weapons. Still Goff is not a first round pick in a regular draft year. All of these rookies need weapons and most need a couple years to figure out the league. Teams should not jump and think they need to take a QB in the first round. In this draft, it is safer and smarter to build around the QB position and get a better defense. Look at the Super Bowl winner. Denver had a great defense and a 39 year old QB, that did not play well. But the Bronco defense is what carried them the whole year.