QB- Jake Haener, Fresno State (6-1, 210)
On paper this is one of the weakest quarterback groups at the Senior Bowl has had, and definitely the worst on paper since 2017. That means for the first time in five years, there won’t be a first-round passer in Mobile.
Theoretically, this could be the first Senior Bowl quarterback group without a prospect selected in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft since 2001. While Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker is in town to meet with NFL teams, he won’t be participating in practice after tearing his ACL in November.
Although each of the six quarterbacks participating in practice brings an interesting skill set to the field, Fresno State’s Jake Haener looks to be the passer with the best chance to elevate his stock this week.
After transferring from Washington to Fresno State, Haener had a breakout second year as a starter in 2021 throwing for 4,096 yards and 33 TDs. Entering 2022 as one of the best senior quarterbacks in the country, he broke his ankle in the third game, but rather than shutting it down for the season and preparing for the NFL Draft, he came back in late October. When he returned to the field, the Bulldogs were 3-4, yet ended up winning the Mountain West Championship after Haener rattled off seven straight wins.
The reason Haener is such an enticing quarterback prospect is what he can do in the short game. He keeps the offense on time with his accuracy, decisive, and quick release on short to intermediate throws. That doesn’t mean he’s a pure pocket passer either, he’s got the footwork to operate in a muddy pocket and the mobility to extend and make plays out of the structure.
With his accuracy, mechanics, and field vision, Haener is the most put together and pro-ready passer in Mobile. Factor in his production and toughness, and he looks like a slam-dunk long-term NFL backup; similar to Gardner Minshew. Given the lack of depth in this quarterback class, don’t count Haener out of the late Day 2 range.