It’s hard to get a read on how teams view Christian Hackenberg, once thought of as the best quarterback prospect in college football in terms of readiness to the pros. At the moment, the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles are showing some interest.
And some interest = working him out. Hackenberg, a five-star recruit out of Virginia when he joined Penn State did a wonderful job under Bill O’Brien (since becoming the Texans head coach) as a freshman. But under James Franklin, things didn’t work out so well. Some blame his offense line and the hits Hackenberg took in 2014 and 2015, but it can’t be all on them. Hackenberg blaming Franklin for his difficulties didn’t sit well with NFL scouts, who want players to show leadership and accountability.
Hackenberg, on the surface, looks like what NFL quarterbacks are made of. A big, athletic slinger who moves well in the pocket and has a strong arm. The problem is consistency and accuracy. He completed only 56.1% of his throws during his time with the Nittany Lions, including just 53.5% his junior year. One beautiful pass can be followed by a wobbler, and he makes it difficult for his wide receivers as his balls go sailing wide, too short or far off target.
The big problem for teams will be determining whether Hackenberg can bounce back from the beatings he’s taken over the last two seasons, and if his accuracy problems are fixable. He seems to have the personality (despite his Franklin dig) to be an NFL quarterback, but that’s not enough. Interestingly enough he hasn’t been linked to the Houston Texans, although it’ll be surprising if it doesn’t come up at some point. In the meantime, the Cowboys, who will almost definitely draft a quarterback at some point in the draft and the Eagles, looking for a third one to sit behind Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel, are those showing intrigue.