We are one week away from the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft kicking off and the mock drafts are coming fast and furious in result. One of the people releasing a mock draft today is ESPN's Louis Riddick, and this one will be the only one he will be releasing for this draft. In that mock, he has the Broncos selecting former Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg with the 31st pick.
The Broncos are on the lookout for a quarterback in the draft and one option is Penn States Christian Hackenberg. Most assume he would be a second or third round pick but Riddick believes he is in play for the Broncos 31st pick.
In his mock, he has quarterback Paxton Lynch going at pick 20 to the New York Jets and Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook going at pick 29 to the Arizona Cardinals. That leaves the Broncos Christian Hackenberg as the theoretical next best quarterback available.
I really hate the term "reach", but it seems like Riddick believes General Manager John Elway would "reach" for a need here at 31 and take the best quarterback available. It is possible that this happens no matter what Elway says publicly because a need at quarterback usual throws out common sense and all the other rules that apply to the other draft prospects.
Now Riddick isn't the only one making this connection. SI's Robert Klemko also released a mock draft today having the Broncos selecting Hackenberg at pick 31.
31. Broncos: Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn St.
The Broncos consider Connor Cook here but ultimately go with Hackenberg, who has the opportunity to absorb an offense while sitting behind Mark Sanchez.
I do not totally hate the idea of adding Hackenberg, and would not be totally shocked to see him go in the late first round because of his physical traits and potential, but I do not see the Broncos doing it. This would scream as a panic move by the Broncos and Elway(and we never know, Elway's hand may be forced and he will have to panic) but I trust Elway not to get into this type of situation.
Christian Hackenberg: I think I can fit in any offense. I like playing w my mind working off the run game, that's a huge part of QB position— SiriusXM NFL Radio (@SiriusXMNFL) April 21, 2016
Hackenberg is a tough prospect to figure out. He showed first overall pick type potential during his freshman year at Penn State under now Texans Head Coach Bill O'Brien. However, after he left Hackenberg's production dipped and he didn't progress like many assumed he would after his freshman year.
Penn State's Head Coach James Franklin's offense is not very quarterback friendly, and Hackenberg played behind a terrible offensive line and with little weapons to rely on. So there are some reasons why he may have struggled, but his tape during that span is ugly.
So GM's and coaches will have to decide whether or not they can get the freshman Hackenberg back under their coaching and offensive system. Some may believe they can do this and select him higher than some assume because of this. Add in his physical traits, strong arm, size, and athleticism and you have the making of a potential elite NFL quarterback prospect.