2016 NFL draft: Chiefs quarterback search

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Hackenberg hasn’t been the same since Bill O’Brien left town, but a reunion could be forthcoming. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

4 (#50 overall): Christian Hackenberg – Penn State – Jr (6’4 – 236 lbs):  A couple years ago, Christian Hackenberg was a “can’t miss” prospect in his freshman year under then Penn State head coach, Bill O’Brien.  Since then, he’s definitely regressed, but many feel that it is a result of a new coach, system, and a loss of offensive talent, and that Hack still has a high draft grade if only because he may be reunited with O’Brien at the NFL level.

Hackenberg has come up in pro style offenses at Penn State.  Both Bill O’Brien and new head coach, James Franklin, utilized the pro concepts in their respective tenures with the Nittany Lions.  There are some marked differences in the offenses, as Franklin is more open to utilizing other schemes than O’Brien was.  However, not truly enough differences that Hack shouldn’t have been able to adjust to it.

The thing that really gets the scouts going over Hackenberg is his arm talent.  You will often hear the arms of quarterbacks being compared to cannons (can throw deep), rifles (good velocity), or lasers (accurate)…Hack has all three.  What he can do in terms of simply throwing the ball is definitely elite.

However, there are a lot of questions surrounding the rest of his game.  He does not handle pressure well at all, and is not good at feeling it or locating the source pre-snap.  He makes very questionable decisions, tends to hold onto the ball too long waiting for a certain route, and his overall play is like a roller coaster with a lot of ups and downs.  Perhaps the biggest concern though, is that his mechanics are out of control.

That’s not saying they are bad…it’s saying there basically aren’t any.  Hackenberg shows almost no consistency in what he’s doing when he throws.  That alone will make it necessary for whatever team drafts him to keep him on the bench for at least a season, if not two.

Next: Headed to a small-school prospect