A perfect match? Why Hackenberg to the Texans makes too much sense

STATE COLLEGE, PA - NOVEMBER 29:  Christian Hackenberg #14 of the Penn State Nittany Lions throws a pass during the first quarter against the Michigan State Spartans at Beaver Stadium on November 29, 2014 in State College, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

It wasn’t that long ago when many scouts felt that Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg would be a future number one pick in the NFL Draft. Now many question if he is one of the top five quarterbacks in this year’s class. Plagued by inconsistency, poor offensive line play, and  a terrible completion percentage, Hackenberg could find himself falling hard when the Draft arrives. Scouting Hackenberg I am not a big fan. My criticisms of the quarterback are that he doesn’t through a tight spiral, has trouble pushing the ball down field with his arm strength, and trouble reading defenses. As a prospect I see Hackenberg being a bust in the NFL, unless he is drafted by one team.

Christian Hackenberg, Bill O' Brien

A reunion could happen with O’brien and Hackenberg. It would be in Hackenberg’s best chance to succeed in the NFL

The Houston Texans is the perfect landing spot for Hackenberg. Given that they are looking for a franchise quarterback after playing QB roulette last season with four different starters, Houston has never truly had a franchise quarterback since their inception in 2002. With the 22nd pick in the draft, Hackenberg figures to be available at that spot. While he fits the Texans’ need for a signal caller, the main reason this is a match made in heaven is because of head coach Bill O’Brien.

As the head football coach of Penn State, O’Brien recruited Hackenberg to Happy Valley and helped turned him into an enticing prospect after a stellar freshmen campaign. In O’Briens system, Hackenberg had his best season at the collegiate level with a 58.9 completion percentage, and 20 touchdown passes to 10 interceptions. It looked like the Nittany Lions would have a dynamic duo with O’Brien and Hackenberg, until O’Brien accepted the head coaching job in Houston.

Since James Franklin took the reigns of the Nittany Lions, Hackenberg regressed with his completion percentage and passing yards both as career lows in his final season at Penn State. Franklin’s system did hurt Hackenberg by often putting the quarterback out their with a below average offensive line and asking the quarterback to throw the ball down the field.

Now the question is does O’Brien want to recruit Hackenberg for the second time? Currently Hackenberg is the fifth quarterback on Mel Kiper’s big board. He should be available at the 22nd pick for the Texans. There are scenarios, could Houston pass on Hackenberg in the first round and hope to trade up for him in the second round? It’s possible but one thing that could cripple Hackenberg’s draft stock is the interest his former head coach gives him.

If O’Brien doesn’t draft Hackenberg in the first round, or worse not even attend his pro day, that would certainly scare off teams that could have interest. Those teams would have to be thinking “if he doesn’t want his former quarterback that he recruited, there must be some major red flags”. The lack of interest could mean that Hackenberg would have a major fall on draft day.

Will their be a Penn State reunion on draft day? Or will Hackenberg’s college regression translate into his stock plummeting during the draft? Stay tuned to find out.

 

 

New York Jets 7 Round Mock Draft: Post-Super Bowl Edition

Round 1 Pick 20: Ezekiel Elliott: RB: Ohio State

ezekiel-elliott-vs-alabama-3c93244266d567e1Last year Mike Maccagnan went with the philosophy of taking the best player available when he selected Leonard Williams with the sixth overall pick. In 2016 look for the Jets to follow that same philosophy as they select the best running back in the draft class. Elliott has proven he can be an every down workhorse with back to back 1800 plus yard seasons including 23 this past season for the Buckeyes. Given the devaluation of the running back position, Eliott falls to the Jets at 20 and gives the Jets a workhorse and potential star at running back. Given that the Jets have three unrestricted free agents at the position, and Pro Bowler Chris Ivory in line for a major pay day Elliot not only gives the Jets a talented first rounder, but fills a crucial need.

Round 2 Pick 51: Le’Raven Clark: OT Texas Tech
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The Jets have two problems at tackle. On the left side D’Brickashaw Ferguson is past his prime and beginning to show signs at regression, while on the right side Breno Giacomini has been a huge disappointment and figures to be a cap casualty given his bloated salary. Clark figures to solve both those problems and could start at right tackle while being groomed to take over the blind side eventually. Clark will have to adjust from playing in a two point stance primarily at Texas Tech, and while he could struggle initially in run blocking there is no question that he has the skill set to protect the passer. Clark is a project but is the best offensive lineman and player available at this point for the Jets.

 

 

 

Round 3 Pick 83: Jordan Jenkins OLB Georgia 12669494.jpg

The Jets need to upgrade their pass rush and address that need in the third round. The outside linebacker position was anything but set in the Jets base 3-4 last year. While Lorenzo Mauldin played well enough to seemingly earn a starting spot at one of the positions, it’s clear the Jets need another edge rusher. While Bruce Irvin is an enticing free agent that the Jets will pursue, you can never have to many pass rushers and anything would be an upgrade over the 35 year old Calvin Pace. Jenkins finished with 10.5 tackles for a loss, 12 QB hits, and 4 sacks for Georgia last season. a hybrid pass rusher who can stand up on the outside or put his hand in the dirt, Jenkins knock is that he is not a great coverage guy. However, he shows great pass rushing ability and was a great leader as the team’s defensive captain. A smart player with a constant motor, he fits the bill of the type of player that Todd Bowles is looking for an could finally give the Jets pass rush a big boost.

Round 4 Pick 115: Cardale Jones QB Ohio State 

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There’s an old saying in the NFL. Draft a quarterback every year until you find the right one. Cardale Jones has tools that are off the chart including a rocket arm and great mobility. However, New York would be the perfect situation for Jones to learn and develop as a quarterback and not face the pressures of being the starter in year one. Given Gailey’s quarterback friendly system that gives the quarterback plenty of passing and throwing lanes, Jones could thrive in New York once he gets a year or two under his belt learning the offense. A sleeper pick that has top notch tools, Jones could be a franchise quarterback in the making if New York can develop him.

 

 

 

Round 5: Bralon Addison WR Oregon

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No team lined up with more 3 or 4 wide receiver sets in 2015 then the New York Jets. Given their value on the wide receiver position, Gang Green could always use another weapon. Addison is another burner from Oregon who not only could stretch the field, but give the Jets a slot threat they lacked in 2015. Another perk to drafting Addison is he would be an explosive returner for New York, something they severely lacked last season. A player that fills two needs is right up the Jets alley.

 

 

Round 6: Pick Traded to Houston for Ryan Fitzpatrick 

Round 7: Nile Lawrence-Stample DT FSU 

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In 2015 Damon Harrison was the best nose tackle in football. The problem? With Muhammad Wilkerson likely to get the franchise tags, big snacks will probably be playing somewhere else in 2016 as New York doesn’t seemingly have the cap space to keep every member on the defensive line. However, if Harrison has taught the Jets anything it’s that you don’t need to spend a high pick to find a quality nose tackle. Harrison was an undrafted free agent but New York will look for his replacement in round 7 with Lawrence-Stample from FSU. A second All-ACC selection last season he is a big run stopper in the middle which is what the Jets stout run defense will need. If Bowles wants to continue with a 3-4 base instead of a 4-3, the Jets will need to find a nose tackle to fit the scheme. Lawrence-Stample has the upside to be a great nose tackle in the NFL.