It’s NFL Draft declaration season, and one of the least surprising announcements has just come through.
Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg announced Saturday afternoon, shortly after leaving the TaxSlayer Bowl with a shoulder sprain, he will enter his name in this spring’s draft.
Hackenberg was a five-star commitment for the Nittany Lions’ 2013 class out of Fork Union Military Academy, and will be looked upon to snap the Big Ten’s now two-decade streak without a first round quarterback selection.
Did the results on the field justify that sort of expectation? Absolutely not. Thrust into the starting lineup as a true freshman, Hackenberg never made an All-Big Ten team or led Penn State to a major victory. Despite throwing 16 touchdowns to only five interceptions, Hackenberg finished this season ranked ninth on the Big Ten’s passing efficiency charts, two spot behind Nebraska’s Tommy Armstrong and his 16 interceptions. A ninth-place finish is one spot above where he ranked in 2014, though.
Maybe it was the sanctions, maybe it was the (lack of) talent around him, maybe it was the scheme, maybe it was all of the above, but Hackenberg never materialized into the program savior many assumed him to be.
Will that matter come draft time? Most likely not. The NFL Draft process is almost never about what you’ve done, rather about what you might do.
And in that case, with his tall stature and his strong right arm, Hackenberg should cash in like he never did in Happy Valley.