Full disclosure: I've spent the past three years ripping Christian Hackenberg's game, I didn't understand what — besides size and arm strength — people liked about him as a quarterback. In my eyes I saw a 'looks the part all-star,' that's it. Now we'll see just how right or wrong I am but feel free to remember I said this and hold me to it because I'm not running from it.
The narrative on Hackenberg was that he had some type of amazing freshman year at Penn State and looked like a lock to be a top five pick whenever he came out, but I've maintained, since that freshman year, that people simply fell in love with his size and arm strength and just started projecting him into this great quarterback. Admittedly his freshman year was his best year, but I never thought it was actually all that good just good when viewed through a freshman lens and people assuming he'd grown into something more than he is.
Size is great, arm strength is the single most overrated attribute in a quarterback. Quarterbacks just need their arms to be strong enough to make all the throws, anything more and that arm strength gets them in trouble because they trust their arm strength too much and force bad throws. Rare is the case where you have Aaron Rodgers having a cannon that he only unleashes when he truly needs it, more often than not what you end up with is Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford or Jeff George.
The case can absolutely be made that a big part of why Hackenberg regressed, or at least didn't improve, was because of the departure of Bill O'Brien and the arrival of James Franklin. Franklin's system absolutely did not do Hackenberg any favors and the case can also be made that Hackenberg failures were at least partly due to having a truly bad offensive line, but one could also point out that Hackenberg also had receiver Allen Robinson to throw to in that freshman season.
Put on the film from just about any game Hackenberg played and you're bound to see a handful of flat out phenomenal throws, the problem is for every one great throw you get three 'what the bleep was that' throws. Over the next few days I'll dig back through the tape and show you exactly what I'm talking about but for now you're just going to have to take my word on it. Or don't of course.
The reason why I'm writing this article in this way is because I can't hide from this. Three years of absolutely crushing the kid's NFL potential so I'm just going to be upfront about it. I can't couch how much I doubt his NFL potential. But I am often wrong and I could certainly be wrong here, Jets fans sure hope I am and if I am wrong you can hang this over me for the rest of eternity.
Until that day comes I'm going to continue to doubt this pick. I really haven't disagreed or questioned many of Mike Maccagnan's decisions — I questioned the decision to sign Antonio Cromartie and draft Bryce Petty that's about it — but on this one I will respectfully disagree until I'm proven wrong.
Chris Nimbley is the Editor-in-Chief of JetsInsider.com/NYJScout.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@cnimbley), or via email (email@example.com)null