Penn State junior quarterback Christian Hackenberg announced following Saturday's 24-17 loss to Georgia in the Taxslayer Bowl he will forgo his senior season and enter April's 2016 NFL draft. ESPN's Jared Shanker reported the news.
Mark Wogenrich of the Morning Call provided a transcript of Hackenberg's announcement:
Mark Wogenrich @MarkWogenrich
Here's a fuller transcript of #PennState quarterback Christian Hackenberg declaring for the NFL draft. https://t.co/jj205PgZ6t2016-1-2 21:55:50
Hackenberg is set to enter a draft class that isn't heavy in first-round talent but does include the likes of Michigan State's Connor Cook, Memphis' Paxton Lynch and California's Jared Goff.
His final season at Penn State wasn't much to behold. Hackenberg did not rank among the top 40 FBS quarterbacks in major statistics such as completions (184), completion percentage (53.3 percent) and touchdowns (16).
At 6'4", 228 pounds, those numbers were underwhelming to say the least.
But much of that had to do with his playing behind an offensive line that didn't do a lot to protect him, as Hackenberg was among the most-sacked quarterbacks in the nation (tied for fourth with 38).
NFL Media's Mike Mayock (via NFL.com's Chase Goodbread) broke down Hackenberg's assets:
My first concern with Hackenberg is accuracy. All the tape I've seen tells me he's not an accurate thrower. That typically doesn't change from college to the NFL that much. He's got to speed up the process a little bit. He's very comfortable under center, he can step up in the pocket. He gets hit a lot, and you've got to be fair to a kid. He takes too many sacks, some of which are his own problem. But he's been hit so much, sometimes you worry about the evaluation process.
His safety behind the Penn State line could have been a major factor why he is heading to the NFL, but Hackenberg still managed to make some big-time throws that reminded the college football world why he was so highly touted coming out of high school. He was the No. 2 quarterback recruit in the nation in 2013, according to 247Sports.
Teams looking for a quarterback—and there will be a few, such as the Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers—could take a chance on Hackenberg as early as the second round.
The Texans have Hackenberg's ex-Penn State head coach, Bill O'Brien, at the same position in the NFL. If O'Brien manages to stay with Houston despite its 8-7 record, he could provide a major influence in the quarterback's selection between April 30 and May 2.
Stats courtesy of ESPN.com.