What the Jets’ selection of Christian Hackenberg means

Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

 

In the second round, the New York Jets selected Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg. Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook, who many viewed as being better than Hackenberg, was still on the board. Talks have come up that Cook wasn’t a leader and Hackenberg has some physical gifts, but what are the future plans of the Jets?

As of now, Hackenberg is another backup, leaving the Jets with no starter and three backups: Geno Smith, Bryce Petty, and obviously Hackenberg. Jets GM Mike Maccagnan said he hopes to resign starter Ryan Fitzpatrick, but they haven’t had meaningful discussions in weeks. “If we get Ryan back, he’s our starter going in, but they’re more than welcome to take the position from him,” coach Todd Bowles said. “Obviously, Ryan earned it from last year, and it’s going to be hard to take it from him. Everybody else falls in, and let the competition work itself out.”. For now, Geno Smith is going into offseason practices at the number one quarterback for the team, said Bowles.

The Jets declined to write 2016 off as a learning year for Hackenberg, a stark contrast to their approach last year, after drafting Petty in the fourth round. Clearly, they believe Hackenberg is further along than Petty was as a rookie. “We’ll see how he progresses,” Maccagnan said. It’s unlikely that the Jets will go into the season with four QBs, Maccagnan insisted. The selection of Hackenberg wasn’t an indictment of the other quarterbacks but that they simply selected the best player available.
“Obviously, he has a lot of physical ability in terms of arm strength, athletic ability and size,” Maccagnan said. “He’s a prototype from that standpoint. … We think he has a lot of potential.”. The Jets traveled to the Penn State campus recently for a private workout. Maccagnan, Bowles and offensive coordinator Chan Gailey were among those in attendance. They also hosted Hackenberg for a pre-draft visit at their facility.

Hackenberg said the coaches didn’t share their immediate plans for him, but he said he had “a great visit” with the team. “A lot of great coaches up there, a lot of awesome football knowledge,” he said. “I’m really excited to learn, really excited to get in there with the guys and get a feel for the team and start earning their respect.”. The Jets had Hackenberg rated higher than Paxton Lynch, whom they passed on in the first round. Lynch was drafted by the Denver Broncos with pick No. 26.
Hackenberg, who is 6-foot-4, 223 pounds, had an uneven career at Penn State. He impressed as a true freshman, but his production declined over his final two seasons under a new coaching staff. He threw for only 2,525 yards last season, with 16 touchdowns and six interceptions. His college career was definitely a rollercoaster.

Hackenberg declined to comment on the ups and downs of his college career but acknowledged that he “faced a lot of adversity.” “Just extremely grateful for the opportunity,” Hackenberg said. “A lot of hours went into this. This is just the beginning. I’m really looking forward to taking the next step and getting in there and getting acclimated to everything going on with the team.”. Hackenberg seems ready to focus on the future.

Hackenberg may be a backup for this year or longer to learn either behind Ryan Fitzpatrick or Geno Smith. He may become the starter in the 2016 season under certain circumstances as this year wasn’t written off as a learning curve. The Jets must believe Hackenberg can be a leader, as they passed on Connor Cook for the reason of his leadership being in question. Hackenberg must’ve impressed the Jets, and there may be long term plans in place, I see Hackenberg as a possible future starter, he may develop to be a franchise quarterback.

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