Michael Conroy/Associated Press
The closer we get to the draft, the more Christian Hackenberg will be talked about. If his name rings a bell, it should. The Penn State product was once considered the next big quarterback, just to fall to the same fate as Logan Thomas and Jevan Snead.
While Bill O'Brien, now the Houston Texans head coach, was grooming Hackenberg during his freshman season, he looked great. After that one year, though, the NFL came knocking, and O'Brien answered. Hackenberg's statistics took a drop, and when he declared, he thanked just about everyone other than James Franklin, who was the head coach of the Nittany Lions for his sophomore and junior seasons.
At the combine weigh-in, he measured in at 6'4" and 223 pounds, prototypical for a quarterback. He has the arm, the pedigree and the looks of a premier quarterback, but his wild accuracy post-O'Brien has some cautious. While everyone is making a big deal about Jared Goff's hand size, Hackenberg also measured in with 9" hands, on the small side for a quarterback.
Teams may correlate his hand size with inaccuracy issues, but interviews will play a big part of Hackenberg's draft stock, which will be built around why he fell off under Franklin's guidance. Luckily, his other former head coach is sticking up for him publicly, per Dan Parr of NFL.com.
On Thursday, O'Brien wasn't interested in offering a draft projection for Hackenberg, but he did give a full-throated endorsement of his character.
"First of all, he's a great kid," O'Brien said. "He comes from a great family. We enjoyed recruiting him. I've known him since he was 17 years old, when he was at Fork Union (Military Academy). I've known him for a long time. I know his parents, his brothers. He's a humble kid. He's talented, smart. Good guy to be around and I enjoyed coaching him his first year at Penn State."