The San Francisco 49ers have plenty of questions at the quarterback position, and the 2016 NFL Draft will provide several options at the position. One player that draws plenty of debate is Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg. The 20-year old (he turns 21 in February) has three years under his belt, and there are a mix of opinions on him.
Hackenberg declared for the draft over the weekend, and we're just now getting around to the topic due to the coach search craziness. Hackenberg draws mixed opinions from analysts, and it continued over the weekend. FOX Sports NFL reporter Peter Schrager had a chance to speak with some NFL evaluators, and they were rather high on Hackenberg.
Multiple NFL evaluators have said to include Hackenberg in any first round mock drafts I do. One: "Can't hold James Franklin against him."— Peter Schrager (@PSchrags) January 2, 2016
Franklin not viewed so favorably. I'm told to watch Hackenberg tape fr when he was under Bill O'Brien.— Peter Schrager (@PSchrags) January 2, 2016
One note on Hackenberg. He's still twenty-years-old. Spent day talking w/ the trusted guys who know the QB position. Internet won't like it.— Peter Schrager (@PSchrags) January 2, 2016
I spoke with Greg Valerio to get his thoughts on Hackenberg. We'll have plenty more on the Penn State quarterback, but for now, here is what Greg thinks of him.
QB Christian Hackenberg, No. 14, 6'4 - 234 lbs., 4.78 40
After a remarkably successful 2013 outing, Christian Hackenberg fizzled a bit throughout his 2014 campaign and has been a nail-scratching chalkboard experience throughout the 2015 season. Of course former Penn State head football coach Bill O'Brien's jettison to the NFL and becoming an impromptu cult superstar on Hard Knocks can definitely dampen one's progression, not to mention a lackluster offensive line. Nevertheless, Hackenberg showcases an NFL ready frame (6'4" - 234 lbs.) as a prototypical pocket passer, solid arm strength, can make all NFL level throws (some throws only a few select NFL quarterbacks can make), decent mobility and athleticism, fair accuracy, capable of reading the entire field, and quite simply, a physically gifted quarterback with natural talent. He also has experience operating in a pro-style offense.
Unfortunately, Hackenberg has not shown any improvement from last season, suffering from the same ill effects as the year prior with very poor decision making at times (sometimes egregiously poor), poor mechanics with a tendency to throw flat footed, accuracy issues, failing to appropriately read defenses, poor ball placement, struggling to make quick passes, and at times, completely looking lost out there. All in all, a big "I" for Inconsistency. Hackenberg potentially could be a franchise type quarterback, which is shocking, I know, but there is no question he has undeniable talent. Ultimately, the Jekyll and Hyde routine must stop! He is a prospect that should strongly consider returning to school.
Hackenberg's stats 12 games in: 184/345 with a 53.3% completion percentage, 2,386 yards, and 16/5 touchdown to interception ratio.