- Ed Mulholland/Getty
The New York Jets took a big risk in last year’s draft when they used their second-round pick on Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg.
Leading up to the draft, Hackenberg was perhaps the most polarizing player around. Some scouts, albeit few, pegged Hackenberg as an early-round pick. But the consensus seemed to be that he should be selected in a much later round, if at all.
Pro Football Focus, for example, went so far as to say that Hackenberg shouldn’t be drafted – full stop. His accuracy, decision making, and general “lack of upside” led PFF to leave him off their QB Big Board entirely. (When he was drafted, PFF called the pick the second-worst of the entire draft.)
Last season was a virtual red-shirt season for Hackenberg. He saw no action over the course of the team’s poor regular season, even as Ryan Fitzpatrick was benched, Geno Smith tore his ACL, and Bryce Petty underwhelmed.
Fast forward a season and the decision to use a second-round pick on Hackenberg only looks worse.
According to a report on Tuesday from NY Daily News beat writer Manish Mehta, Hackenberg is still believed to be nowhere close to competing in the NFL.
“One thing is clear: The Jets don’t believe that Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg will be the Week 1 starter. The feeling in the organization all last year was that Petty’s ceiling was NFL backup. The overriding belief on One Jets Drive is that Hackenberg isn’t even close to competing for the starting job in 2017.”
In all, the Jets’ quarterback situation is as depressing as ever.
Fitzpatrick is gone, Smith is unlikely to return, Petty’s fate within the franchise appears to be perpetual backup, and Hackenberg is at this point doing little more than taking up space on the roster.
One might reasonably wonder, then, if the Jets should just give Petty and/or Hackenberg some experience this season anyway, even if they aren’t ultimately cut out to be the team’s longterm option. They would at least get some reps, and if the Jets lose a lot of games they’ll position themselves nicely at the draft as next year’s draft class is believed to be much deeper at the QB position than this year’s.
The problem, as Mehta noted, is that the Jets are unwilling to fully commit to a rebuilding year.
“In a vacuum, it would be terrific for the Jets to position themselves for a quarterback-rich 2018 draft class that includes USC’s Sam Darnold and UCLA’s Josh Rosen (among others), but [GM Mike] Maccagnan and [head coach] Todd Bowles aren’t in the business of tanking. There’s no assurance that Woody Johnson will retain both or either of them if the Jets stink to high heaven in 2017.”
And so, the team is expected to go out and sign a quarterback in free agency this off-season. One name that has been floated is Mike Glennon, the backup in Tampa Bay. Another is Tyrod Taylor of the Buffalo Bills.
It’s hard to believe either Glennon or Taylor will really solve too many of the team’s problems, or help the team build toward the future. On that latter point, the Jets had ample opportunity to invest in their future at the 2016 Draft. Their first-round pick, Darron Lee, was rated the worst linebacker in the class of 2016, according to Pro Football Focus. Their second-round pick was Hackenberg.
At this year’s draft, the Jets have the sixth pick overall. ESPN Draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. has the team taking Leonard Fournette with that pick. Fournette has his own red-flags, but would at least be a rookie that sees immediate playing time.