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Were The Scouting Reports Right? - Christian Hackenberg

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NFL: New York Jets at Buffalo Bills Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Here it is, ladies and gentlemen, the one you’ve been waiting for! To continue our series, let’s look back at the predraft scouting reports of Christian Hackenberg and compare it to what we’ve seen from him in his brief exhibition playing time. Obviously, Hack was a very unpopular pick among Jets fans the moment he was selected. Unlike another New York athlete (closely resembling a unicorn) who was booed upon selection only 10 months earlier, Hackenberg has done nothing to prove the doubters wrong. What did we, or the Jets for that matter, miss?

From NFL.com, here are the strengths listed in Hackenberg’s scouting report.

Prototypical size for pocket quarterback. Durable and tough. Willing to hang in and take the hit if he thinks a completion is pending. Took a pounding and never missed a start. Experienced in pro-style attack and played well in Bill O’Brien’s scheme as a freshman. Able and willing to work through progressions when protected. Balls comes out of his hand with pro velocity. Can drive hips through his release for extra mustard. Can make all the throws, and has the arm talent to take shots to areas of the field that most quarterbacks can’t. Underrated in touch throw department. Can float the ball over top of defenders and deliver it on a pillow. Decent athlete able to climb pocket while keeping his eyes downfield. Recognizes and points out late blitz movement pre-snap. Recognizes danger and able to avoid most baiting attempts. Dropped interception total from 15 in 2014 to just six in 2015. Twice voted team captain and has displayed leadership qualities from time he stepped on campus.

What seems right?

  • Well, unless Hack has shrunk in the past two years (who knows, all that sitting on the bench couldn’t have been great for his posture), I would say that he still has prototype size.

What seems off?

  • “Can make all the throws.” - One of the most ridiculous statements to make about a quarterback prospect. What does this even mean? One would assume that a player talented enough to reach the NFL technically “can” make all the throws, or else they probably wouldn’t have made it that far. With a few exceptions, every NFL receiver is capable of making the same catch the next guy does. It’s not about what you can do. It’s about how consistently you can do it. And when someone completes 56% of their passing attempts as a collegiate quarterback, it is a gigantic bright red flag that the player just might not be capable of adequate consistency at the pro level.
  • “Able and willing to work through progressions when protected.” - Even though it was preseason, the Jets did not show the confidence in Hackenberg to put many advanced concepts on his plate. He averaged 8.9 yards per completion in the preseason this year. That is ghastly.
  • “Recognizes and points out late blitz movement pre-snap. Recognizes danger and able to avoid most baiting attempts.” - If Hackenberg were this smart as a quarterback, he wouldn’t be as ineffective as he has been against merry-go-round rotating defenses in the preseason, and the Jets probably wouldn’t feel the need to sign a 39-year old mentor to put ahead of their premium investment on the depth chart.

Here are the negatives listing on his scouting report.

Debilitating accuracy issues with atrocious 51.5 percent adjusted completion total (throws beyond line of scrimmage). Turns receivers into goalies. Even simple throws can be coin-flippers in accuracy department. Release point can vary greatly and he is still looking for repeatable footwork, mechanics and release. Will throw a spiral followed by wobbler. Ball patting and wind-up slows release and can obstruct timing. Extra air under deep balls combined with marginal timing allows safeties time to race into the play. Busted internal clock. Allows pressure to overtake him rather than getting catchable throw out a shade early. Sacked 82 times over last two years. Iffy accuracy and ball placement falls off map when defenses send pressure. Completed just 44.2 percent against five rushers and 41.9 percent against six. Pocket feel a work in progress. Will climb pocket into trouble unnecessarily.

What seems right?

  • Well, it’s pointed out right off the top that he has accuracy issues. That has obviously continued to be his main issue, but here’s my question. If it is deemed that a prospect has accuracy issues, how can go you and list his ability “to make all the throws” as a positive? It doesn’t make sense to me, and it seems likely that was part of the logic the Jets used in deciding he was worth a 2nd round pick. Just because it looks nice when you do do it, doesn’t mean you are good at it. It’s about doing it consistently.
  • Again, this entire section is about inaccuracy and inconsistency. If those are your biggest weaknesses, what strength could you possibly have to mitigate them?

What seems wrong?

  • None of this has been proven wrong.

Poll choice: Choice 2 (He is the player I thought he was, but fell short of performance expectations)

It was close for me between Choice 2 and Choice 3 (expected style and performance level), but I can’t call a player who isn’t even good enough to step on the field for two whole years anything other than a disappointment. Few were fans of this pick, but how many would have bet that 32 games into his career Hackenberg would not have contributed even a single passing attempt?

At this point, it seems as likely as ever that Hackenberg will never throw a pass for the Jets in the regular season. He couldn’t sniff playing time behind Bryce Petty and Josh McCown, and now (if he is still on the roster) will have to compete with whatever the Jets concoct out of almost nine figures of cap room and a top six selection.

Needing a big victory as much as ever, Mike Maccagnan decided to up the risk factor a bit and shoot for the dartboard blindfolded from 100 feet away. If he hit, he’d be an absolute legend. If he missed, it would prove one of the most embarrassing (yet predictable) misses of all time. He missed, all right. Only question is; did he hit the ocean?

Poll

Is Christian Hackenberg the kind of player you thought he was?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    Yes, he’s what I expected skillset-wise, and beat my expectations performance-wise
    (36 votes)
  • 17%
    Yes, he’s what I expected skillset-wise, but fell short of my expectations performance-wise
    (142 votes)
  • 21%
    He’s the type of player I thought he was and performed almost exactly as well as I expected
    (178 votes)
  • 1%
    No, he’s not what I expected skillset-wise, but in a good way; he beat my performance expectations
    (15 votes)
  • 55%
    No, he’s not the style of player I thought he was, and he is also worse than I thought
    (464 votes)
835 votes total Vote Now