2016 NFL Draft: Christian Hackenberg’s plummeting draft stock


The first week of the College Football season couldn’t have gone any worse for Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg. His team lost to Temple for the first time in 74 years in what was a completely disastrous performance. Hackenberg’s draft stock is almost as low as hopes for Penn State having a successful season.

There’s no doubting the physical talents of Hackenberg who possesses a strong arm, excellent size and balance in the pocket. However, his inability to properly handle pressure makes it tough to like his chances for success at the next level.

A lot blame is being placed on Penn State’s leaky offensive line, but Hackenberg is equally if not more responsible for the 10 sacks against Temple. The most noticeable problem is that he freezes when faced with pressure and holds the ball.

This clip is a perfect example of staring into the rush:

Hackenberg has plenty of time on this play to get the ball out of his hands. Instead, he watched the blitzing linebacker and turned away from his receivers. There were several other plays that look similar to the clip above.

Another concern is Hackenberg’s ability to identify potential blitzing linebackers before the snap. A lot of these sacks could have been avoided had Hackenberg made some pre-snap adjustments and checked into some hot routes.

Outside of his inability to overcome the pass rush, Hackenberg struggled with his accuracy and ball placement. He missed several open targets including one that would’ve resulted in a long touchdown pass to wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton.

Hackenberg also displayed some questionable body language and sideline behavior. He was seen hanging his head and having heated exchanges on the sideline. His behavior didn’t inspire confidence in his teammates and potential could’ve helped full the feeling of things spiraling out of control.

This isn’t a perfect comparison but Hackenberg displays a lot of the same question marks I had about Blaine Gabbert. The inability to perform under pressure is what quickly ended Gabbert’s hope of developing into a successful NFL quarterback.