Every year, ESPN analyst Jon Gruden films a segment with the top quarterback prospects in the NFL Draft called quarterback camp. He has a discussion with each prospect, does some chalkboard work, and takes them onto the field. I wanted to share this year's segment with Christian Hackenberg, the new quarterback in town.
In case you do not have time to watch the whole thing. here are some highlights and thoughts that I had.
- Hackenberg mentions the appeal of running a pro style offense as part of the reason he chose Penn State. Penn State ran a conventional pro style offense under Bill O'Brien in Hackenberg's first year before moving over to more of a spread system under new head coach James Franklin when O'Brien was hired by the Texans. Hackenberg is not remotely critical of Franklin,but his comments about Franklin being dedicated to recruiting and delegating might be a subconscious admission that he liked having a coach as dedicated to the offensive scheme as O'Brien was.
- Hackenberg goes to the chalkboard and describes ways he'd adjust plays at the line based on factors such as the look the safeties gave. In college, Hackenberg was not playing cat and mouse with defenses and torching them consistently because he could crack the code of defenses. His game footage shows a guy who is not on the savant level of an Andrew Luck or a Jameis Winston who largely had the mental side of quarterbacking down before they set foot on an NFL field. With that said, Hackenberg does seem to be a guy who is further along than your typical college quarterback in this area.
- Gruden gets on him about his footwork from the shotgun. Hackenberg admits it but also notes that Franklin asked him to make a change after his freshman year on where his feet were aligned at the snap. Somebody pointed this out to me Friday night in one of our threads, and it does mesh a bit with the idea some of Hackenberg's struggles were on his coaching staff. It is not necessarily going to be a quick fix, though. Gruden gets on Hackenberg a bit when they take the show to the field about his feet on one particular play. Some habits are going to have to be fixed.
- When the topic of the hits Hackenberg took is discussed, Gruden notes the quarterback's role. In this instance, Hackenberg does not throw his offensive line under the bus. He instead puts the blame on himself for not getting his team into the proper protections or help out struggling linemen enough. I think first of all it is good that he isn't publicly calling out his teammates, who did him no favors. I also like that he acknowledges a problem here. Quarterbacks take an active role in their protection. They have to help put the team into the correct protection scheme at the line for what the defense is facing. This is an area where Hackenberg needs to learn and improve, and it will be neither easy nor guaranteed to succeed. He does show interest in what Gruden is telling him and seems to pick up some of the concepts quickly on the field.