QB #14 Christian Hackenberg, Penn St.*

6’4” – 228 lbs. – 4.80e

Took over the team’s starting quarterback job as a true freshman, a role which he reprised in each of his three seasons with the Nittany Lions, albeit with production which was only somewhat impressive as a freshman. Has adequate height for a pro quarterback, with an adequate build and the frame to accommodate additional bulk; probably listed above his playing weight. Was asked to play in a few different offensive schemes, his greatest successes coming in a pro-style offense under current Texans head coach Bill O’Brien. Recently has spent most of his snaps out of the shotgun, however. Doesn’t do a great job of feeling pressure; will occasionally run himself into trouble. However, has a little bit of escapability; not much of a threat with his feet, but can pick up a few yards when he’s forced to do so. Capable of making some throws while rolling to his right. Has experience going through progressions, although he doesn’t tend to make very good decisions with the ball. Takes a lot of chances into coverage, which have caused a worrisome amount of turnovers in recent years. Uses a three-quarters delivery, although he can alter his arm angle when necessary. Lacks strong throwing fundamentals, which have significantly deteriorated during his time in college; uses torque in his torso to generate velocity, without setting his feet and stepping into his throws consistently (many passes come off of his back foot.) Consequently sprays throws all over the field, missing receivers long, short, and wide; many of his passes aren’t catchable balls. That said, does actually have a strong arm, which allows him to compensate for some of his technical shortcomings; gets enough on the ball to complete throws outside the hashes. Probably at his best when he’s throwing routine screens and slants with zip; most of his production as a junior came on throws less than ten yards downfield. A prospect whose development trajectory is disconcerting, but who may still interest some teams early because of how promising he looked as a freshman in a more pro-style system, Hackenberg is one of this class’ true mysteries. Typically, prospects who complete a low percentage of passes at the college level rarely improve when becoming a pro, and the amount of mechanical problems in his game makes him a significant gamble. Even as a junior, it’s possible to see flashes of the old Hackenberg, but that may not be enough to solidify a spot on the second day of this year’s draft.

Games watched: Illinois (’15), Michigan St. (’15), Temple (’15)

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