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Mel Kiper: Christian Hackenberg Should Sit as a Rookie

Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

Darryl Slater transcribed a conference call with Mel Kiper, Jr. where the ESPN analyst said the Jets should sit Christian Hackenberg as a rookie.

"I don't think he's ready to play right away," Kiper said Monday during a conference call with reporters. "I think he needs time. Hopefully, he's not forced to be the guy, or he's going to be a bust. If they handle him properly, and manage him properly, I think he's got a chance maybe three years down the road. If they're forcing Christian Hackenberg to start being a factor right away, they're barking up the wrong tree."

Usually I find the whole, "This guy needs to sit for one year...He needs to sit for two years," thing arbitrary. It is frequently used for quarterbacks from spread systems who need to learn NFL concepts. These comments are often arbitrary, though. Some guys learn quicker than others. There are cases where spread quarterbacks have learned at a fast enough rate to succeed as rookies. Other players just don't have what it takes. You could give them ten years, and they would never have NFL success.

This is a different case. I agree with Kiper on this one. Hackenberg has a number of mechanical issues. You can blame his Penn State coaching staff. To some extent it might be their fault, but no matter whom is to blame, these issues exist. Hackenberg is going to have to relearn certain mechanical things. That would be best done on the practice field.

You might ask, "John, you just said some people learn faster than others. Why couldn't he pick things up at a faster rate than you expect." Well, part of the reason he fell into such bad habits was his offensive line. Being under constant pressure in games made the problem worse. If the Jets had an offensive line of the caliber the 2008 through 2010 teams had, I could see it. The current offensive line is a weakness, though. It is going to be tough for Hackenberg to correct what is wrong if he's under constant duress right out of the gate in the NFL.