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November 27, 2015

A look ahead to the 2016 quarterback class: Christian Hackenberg edition

Eagles NFL
112715ChristianHackenberg Gene J. Puskar/AP

I suspect the NFL draft advisory committee is going to recommend that Hackenberg stay in school.

Sam Bradford missed his second straight game on Thanksgiving, and the the Eagles have not had a quarterback start all 16 regular season games in 21 of the last 25 years. No team in the NFL has had a higher total over that span. 

If Bradford is not the Eagles' Week 1 starter in 2016, the Eagles will be starting their sixth different quarterback since 2009. That is incredible instability at the quarterback position.

Whether Bradford is back or not, enough is enough -- the Eagles need to find a way to get a quarterback in the 2016 NFL Draft, which may not have a bona fide consensus No. 1 overall pick-type, but may have a good amount of depth.

During the offseason and continuing into the regular season, we started taking a look at some of the quarterbacks eligible to enter the 2016 NFL Draft. In case you missed those, you can find them here: 

• Michigan State's Connor Cook
• Ohio State's Cardale Jones
• USC's Cody Kessler
• Cal's Jared Goff
• Cincinnati's Gunner Kiel
• Mississippi State's Dak Prescott
• Memphis' Paxton Lynch

Today we'll take a look at someone a little closer to home, Penn State's Christian Hackenberg. 

Let's start with Hackenberg's numbers:

Year Comp-Att (Comp %) Yards YPA TD-INT 
2013  231-392 (58.9%)2955 7.5 20-10 
2014  270-484 (55.8%)2977 6.2 12-15 
2015 162-306 (52.9%)2129 7.0 14-3 

There are two things that stand out above, and both are major negatives. 

First and foremost, Hackenberg's completion percentage is not only putrid, but it's actually worse than it looks because Penn State throws so many short passes. Secondly, his TD-INT ratio in 2014 was awful, as he threw more picks than touchdowns.

I watched four of Hackenberg's games from his library on The first three games were against quality defenses (vs. Temple in 2015, and vs. Michigan State and Ohio State in 2014). His performances were so bad in those games, that I actually went to his game log, and picked out his best statistical game in 2014 to see if I could find something positive to say, which happened to be against Boston College. 

Unfortunately, there wasn't anything all that impressive there either.

To note, only has one 2015 Hackenberg game in their library, and many believe he has improved this season, despite his bad completion percentage. 

Things I liked

• At 6-foot-4 and 228 pounds, he's tall.

• There's little doubt he has a strong arm, and the ball comes out quickly once he decides to let it rip, with little effort.

Aaaaand, that's about all I got.

Things I didn't like

• He often holds onto the ball for an eternity. Penn State's offensive line has not been good in front of Hackenberg, but he has contributed Penn State's inflated sack total. Here's an example of Hackenberg's non-existent internal clock against Ohio State:

• He has little to no mobility. He'll scramble and pick up a few yards on occasion when a play breaks down, but he doesn't have good speed at all. Additionally, despite his large frame, Hackenberg rarely muscles his way away from opposing pass rushers.

• He rarely attempts touch throws, often firing the ball as hard as he can at his receivers. In that regard, he reminds me a little of Cam Newton, without the running ability.

• He throws a very inaccurate deep ball. And he's also inaccurate when throwing on the run. Hell, he's even inaccurate on bubble screens:

• Speaking of quick screens, he'll often throw them when his receivers are clearly covered up and going nowhere:

• Sometimes he'll stare down receivers and lock on to an extreme degree:

• And finally, his feet are awful. I've actually heard announcers say they like his calm feet. However, at times, he'll often stand like a statue, and not step into throws... at all. I don't know what Penn State's coaches are doing, but holy hell this is gross:


In fairness to Hackenberg, he has played behind a bad offensive line, and the receivers he has worked with have been some of the least impressive among the quarterbacks I've previewed so far. Additionally, Penn State's offensive scheme under James Franklin is wholly uninspired and unoriginal. On the one hand, you'd like to see what Hackenberg looks like in a better situation. On the other hand, his tape is often really bad no matter how you slice it.

If Hackenberg comes out, somebody will like his arm enough to take a shot on him as a developmental prospect, but in no way whatsoever do I see anything close to a first round pick here. 

Previously, some thought he might eventually go first overall. Instead, Hackenberg should probably stay in school for his senior season.

Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski

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