Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg is used to being in the spotlight, having started every game in his three-year Nittany Lion career.
Well, now the early entrant in the 2016 NFL Draft is about to hit the really big stage. Friday night, Hackenberg was taken in the second round (51st overall) by the New York Jets. And he steps into a situation with plenty of drama.
The Jets are said to be trying to re-sign 2015 starter Ryan Fitzpatrick. Currently on the roster are 2015 fourth-round pick Bryce Petty and 2013 second-round pick Geno Smith.
Interestingly enough, Houston traded up to make the 50th pick. Many wondered if Texans' coach Bill O'Brien — who recruited Hackenberg to PSU and helped him have a record-breaking freshman season in 2013 — wanted to pick his former player. Instead, O'Brien tabbed Notre Dame center Nick Martin, clearing the way for the Jets to take Hackenberg.
Kim Jones of the NFL Network — a former Penn State beat writer — posted the following quoting Hackenberg.
NASSIB SECOND PICK OF THIRD ROUND
Defensive end Carl Nassib — Penn State's walk-on turned multiple national award winner — was the second pick of the third round Friday. He went to the Cleveland Browns with the 65th overall selection.
"I always had dreams of playing in the NFL, as long as I can remember," Nassib told Browns' beat writers in a teleconference. "A lot of people didn’t agree with that, but that didn’t deter me. I kept working my hardest."
Later, he said, "I talked to Coach (Hue) Jackson, and he told me that I needed to bring the same intensity — same dedication, that I had at Penn State — and I told him that I would bring that every single day."
JOHNSON FIRST LION OFF BOARD
As expected, no former Penn State players went in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft in Chicago Thursday.
But things began to heat up in the second round Friday, as DT Austin Johnson went to Tennessee in the second round. He was the 43rd overall pick.
Johnson was an early entrant into the draft.
In Tennessee, he will be joining another former Penn State defensive tackle, DaQuan Jones. Jones was thrilled with the pick.
Former Nittany Lion and NFL Network analyst Michael Robinson liked the pick.
"Austin Johnson (is a) great motor kid, great character guy too,” Robinson said. "He's a guy that can push the pocket and rush the pocket out of sub packages — be a three technique — turn that edge and push the pocket. I like this kid.”
On picking Johnson, Tennessee general manager Jon Robinson said, "We targeted Austin for a while there. There’s a lot of versatility on the defensive line with him. He’s a great trait guy, and has some quickness. He can win on third-down situations.”