ESPN’s long-time NFL Draft specialist Mel Kiper believes that the New York Jets shouldn’t be so quick to give up on Christian Hackenberg.Following an extremely disappointing 5-11 2016 season after falling just short of a playoff appearance the year before, New York Jets fans are calling for general manager Mike Maccagnan to draft a quarterback with the sixth overall pick come the NFL Draft in April.
But ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper says the Jets shouldn’t forget about quarterback Christian Hackenberg, their 51st overall pick in the 2016 draft.
Kiper thought at the time that the Jets got good value for the former Penn State star in the second round – although he did have Oakland Raiders playoff quarterback Connor Cook ranked higher – and he seems to be sticking to that original assumption.
North Carolina‘s Mitch Trubisky, Clemson‘s Deshaun Watson and Notre Dame‘s DeShone Kizer – the top three quarterbacks in Kiper’s first mock draft – are likely to still be available when the Jets select during the first round in April.
But because Hackenberg didn’t get any significant playing time in 2016, Kiper believes the Jets can’t afford to forfeit such a high value pick so quickly.
“So, all of a sudden, do you give up on a quarterback you drafted just because, as a rookie, he didn’t play,” said Kiper in an ESPN article. “I don’t believe that.”
While Hackenberg never entered a regular season game, he did play during the preseason, experiencing difficulties right away. The 6-foot-4 signal caller produced the 17th ranked quarterback rating out of the 20 rookies to play during the preseason, along with a 36.2 completion percentage and just one touchdown to two interceptions.
The former Nittany Lion had much more success in college, managing nearly 8500 yards and 48 touchdowns in three full seasons starting in Happy Valley.
The quarterback situation currently inhabiting the Jets’ roster leaves much to be desired, as Ryan Fitzpatrick‘s one year ‘prove-it’ deal is up, Geno Smith‘s rookie contract is finished and former fourth-round pick Bryce Petty didn’t show much to be excited about in his trial to end last season.