By: Thomas Frank Carr
Christian Hackenberg just made the job of a lot of general managers much harder.
There will be numbers thrown around of how many passes he missed, hit, and were dropped but the main thing to take away from today’s pro day was that he was great. His footwork was crisp, his release was quick, and his mechanic sound. Hackenberg’s quarterback coach for the past two and a half months, Jordan Palmer agrees,
“Honestly I think it was an A. I’m not covering anything up. I thought it was great. The general response was that people were really pleased with the accuracy. The ball was right on top of the receiver’s faces. He did nine different play actions, which is about as many as there in any NFL system.”
We are all aware of the criticisms of the former Penn State signal caller.
Poor completion percentage.
Can’t hit short passes.
Under the lights at Holuba Hall on Thursday, Hackenberg attacked those criticisms the same way he did everything while at Penn State; head on. Palmer revealed afterwards that the script for the day was actually designed by Hackenberg himself and not by Palmer,
“I have a templated pro day that I put together and then Christian took it and made it his own. He came back from the combine to California, we threw for five days, and he got that template and he modified it based off what he wanted to show.”
It was clear what Hackenberg wanted to show was that his doubters were wrong. The work early was on swing passes, outs, hitches, and a manner of other short routes. In short, all the throws that Hackenberg struggled to make last year.
Aside from one or two errant passes, he was on the money. From there he showed off his arm, throwing darts down the field to former teammates Kyle Carter and former Penn State receiver Derek Moye, among others.
So what does all of this mean? Does it mean that he’s going to be a late riser up the draft boards and reclaim his spot in the first round of the NFL draft?
What it does is it feeds the counter argument. The ‘yes but’ crowd can point to his pro day and say that he can succeed at the next level. It muddied the waters for anyone who wanted to write him off as NFL fool’s gold.
“I definitely feel like he’s peaking at the right time. I think you’re going to start hear a buzz nationally in the next two or three days once these pro days settle down, of Christian Hackenberg trending upward.”
While Palmer may be biased, he’s not wrong. It only takes one team to believe in a quarterback. After all Christian Ponder, Tim Tebow, Johnny Manziel and E.J. Manuel were all first round picks.