Christian Hackenberg recently signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, he’s now in training camp and practicing with the team.
The 2016 second-round draft pick didn’t pan out as the quarterback of the future for the Jets, he still has yet to even take an NFL snap.
The Jets have moved on, they’re now grooming this year’s second-overall pick, Sam Darnold, to be their quarterback that leads them into the future. Meanwhile, Hackenberg is hoping to make the best of another chance to make good on his NFL aspirations.
“I was just sitting on my couch the past two months working, flying all over the place,” Hackenberg said, after failed tryouts with the Patriots and Texans. “So it just feels good to be back out on the field and have some pads and cleats on. Whether it be watching practice right now or being able to stay after and throw for 20-35 minutes and actually get some work in with the team. That’s what you miss the most.”
Hackenberg never developed into what the Jets were hoping for from him, that’s not all his fault. It’s fair to argue the Jets overreached when they took him with a second-round pick. His time at Penn State indicated a youngster with the talent to play but drowned out by inconsistency. That’s hardly enough to justify using such a high pick, but it also showed how desperate the Jets were to secure a future franchise quarterback.
It’s the one miss on general manager Mike Maccagnan’s resume which will always stand out like a sore thumb.
“I don’t know,” said Hackenberg of his short stay with the Jets. “I’m not gonna really dwell on the past. I’ve had a lot of time to reflect, a lot of time to work this offseason. That’s been my focus and I’m happy to be here and living in the moment.”
It remains to be seen if Hackenberg will ever become an NFL starting quarterback, but he has the chance to at least develop into a serviceable backup. His time with the Eagles may not be for the long-term, they’re already stocked at the position.
Carson Wentz, the 2016 second-overall pick, is the starter. A.J. Foles took the Eagles to their Super Bowl championship last season after Wentz went down to an injury. The Eagles brought Foles back, with a generous pay raise, to be their insurance policy for Wentz.
Hackenberg could possibly practice his way into a competition with Joe Callahan and Nate Sudafeld for the third quarterback spot, or maybe the Eagles try and stash him on the practice squad. Those options are a bit of a stretch at the moment.
What’s more realistic for Hackenberg now is having a team willing to invest time in his development.
“We gotta spend a lot of one on one time trying to catch him up,” said Eagles offensive coordinator Mike Groh. “You try to shrink the playbook for him and make it more of a gameplay specific so they can focus on what he needs to know for each game. He’s gotta craw before he can walk.”