Giger: Hackenberg’s draft spot not easy to determine
It wouldn’t be shocking to see Christian Hackenberg drafted at the end of the first round tonight, nor would it be shocking if he falls as far as the fourth round.
Analyzing Hackenberg has to be as much of a head scratcher as it gets for NFL scouts. There’s very little to like about his film the past two years and he’s not very accurate, but he was good as a freshman in a pro offense for Penn State, and he has all the physical skills.
So, where will Hackenberg go? Honestly, we’re all just throwing darts with our guesses, but here are some things to consider:
n Hackenberg is only rated in the 80-100 range of top draft prospects by several analysts. But he’s a quarterback with a high ceiling, so where he goes depends on how much a team values his potential and can overlook his struggles at PSU.
n The first two quarterbacks taken will be Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, 1-2, and Paxton Lynch likely will be the third off the board, most likely in the first round.
n Two possible landings spots for Hack at the end of the first round are Arizona (29) and Denver (31), but neither seems likely. The Cardinals will need an heir apparent to Carson Palmer in a couple of years, and his brother, Jordan, is Hackenberg’s personal coach. But Arizona has a legitimate chance to win a Super Bowl this season, and it can’t afford to take a project quarterback in the first round, where it can land an immediate impact player. The Broncos need a quarterback, but they need one now, and John Elway probably won’t gamble on Hackenberg at that spot.
n The beginning of the second round offers interesting possibilities. Cleveland (32), Dallas (34) and San Diego (35) all could be looking quarterback, with the Chargers and Cowboys needing an heir apparent. Anyone who wishes the best for Hackenberg should be hoping he doesn’t go to the Browns, who are simply an embarrassment of a professional organization and would kill his career.
n As the second round progresses, there are some teams that currently have a starting quarterback and could take Hack as a project, including the Giants (40) and Bears (41). If the Jets don’t take a quarterback in the first round, they could be looking at No. 51.
n An ideal landing spot could be New Orleans at No. 47. Going there would allow Hackenberg to sit behind Drew Brees for a couple of years and play in a good offensive system. Brees is the league’s most accurate passer, and Hackenberg surely could learn some valuable lessons working closely with him.
n I don’t see any way the Texans are interested in Hackenberg, regardless of the Bill O’Brien connection.
n Hackenberg isn’t accurate enough to run New England’s offense.
n The Broncos at the end of the second round could be a good fit for everyone.
n The Cardinals at the end of the second round would make a lot of sense, but they don’t have a pick there.
n If he drops into the third round, Hackenberg could be in some trouble. That means he will have been bypassed twice by just about every team, and the so-called “gotta take a quarterback” panic draft approach won’t apply any longer. The fourth round would start to look like more of a possibility.
n The Steelers should not go after Hackenberg until at least the fourth round. Ben Roethlisberger is only 34, the team has legitimate Super Bowl hopes and it doesn’t need a project QB any sooner than the fourth.
My projected pick: Saints in the second or third round.
Cory Giger is the host of “Sports Central” weekdays from 4 to 6 p.m. on ESPN Radio 1430 WVAM.