One prospect who may interest Broncos head coach Sean Payton on day three of the 2023 NFL Draft is Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener. He is a 6’0”, 207-pound quarterback prospect who is known for his football IQ and accuracy. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler has Haener ranked as his sixth-best quarterback prospect in the draft and gave him a fourth-round grade.
Haener played a total of three seasons at Fresno State and is coming off two seasons of productive football as their starter. During his three-year career, he totaled 9,013 yards, 67 touchdowns, 17 interceptions, and completed 68.2% of his passes. This past season, Haener played in nine games for Fresno State and totaled 2,896 yards passing, 20 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, and completed 72% of his passes.
Jake Haener is a gamer, man. One of my top Day 3 options at QB. Some of his intermediate reads are really impressive, and he has the arm elasticity to layer the football with velocity. https://t.co/bQa6MXybn7— Ian Cummings (@IC_Draft) April 12, 2023
Weight: 207 pounds
40-time: Did not run
Arm Length: 29 3⁄4 inches
Hands: 9 3/8 inches
Vertical Jump: 35 inches
Broad Jump: 9’6”
3-Cone Drill: 7.01 seconds
- High-level football IQ
- Reads the field well and goes through his progressions
- A highly accurate passer who wins with anticipation throws
- Has enough of an arm to make most throws consistently
- Solid pocket awareness, can extend plays, and comfortable throwing on the run
- Can throw over the middle and find the open passing lanes
- Changes arm angles when needed and makes accurate throws
- Always sets his feet and throws off a solid base
- Known toughness and competitiveness on and off the field
- Voted 3x captain by his teammates
- Does not have the prototypical size or build teams look for in a quarterback
- Lacks elite arm talent and sometimes the ball flutters or looks flat
- Needs to work on his deep ball placement and accuracy
- Sometimes gets check down happy
- Needs to do a better job looking off zone coverage
What other analysts are saying about Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener
A three-year starter at Fresno State, Haener was productive in the Bulldogs’ spread RPO scheme under longtime mentor Jeff Tedford and led the program to the 2022 Mountain West Championship. He played at a high level in five career starts against Pac-12 opponents: 67.7 percent completions, 302 passing yards per game and eight total touchdowns, including a legendary comeback performance at UCLA in 2021. As a rhythm passer, Haener throws receivers open and displays a natural feel for placement, putting the ball away from the leverage of the defender. With his field vision, gutsy instincts and play confidence, he doesn’t wilt versus pressure and consistently finds answers when blitzed. Overall, Haener doesn’t have premium size or arm strength by NFL standards, but he helps compensate for his average physical tools with passing anticipation, natural accuracy and the competitive toughness to keep plays alive. As long as he is healthy, he has the mental makeup and instincts to be a resourceful NFL backup in the mold of Taylor Heinicke. - The Athletic’s Dane Brugler
Team captain with below-average size and arm talent, but above-average football IQ. Haener plays with a pre-snap plan and does a nice job of getting the ball out quickly against the blitz. He senses edge pressure and slides to find a new location to throw from. He doesn’t have the drive velocity to successfully window shop and might require a timing-based scheme or spread attack where he can make quick throws in rhythm. Haener’s lack of traits, coupled with limited mobility outside the pocket, create a challenging road to NFL success. - NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein
Does Fresno State Jake Haener make sense for the Denver Broncos?
I could see Broncos head coach Sean Payton being interested. I am not saying he will be Drew Brees, but I get those types of vibes from Haener. He is an intelligent prospect who can read the field, make the correct read, find the open receiver, throw the receiver open if needed, and just be a consistent rhythm passer. I can see Sean Payton building a system that really brings out the strengths of Haener's game.
Now, his lack of arm talent is a concern. He doesn’t have a strong arm and lacks the consistent zip to make throws consistently downfield. That can be an issue and we have seen quarterbacks like Haener struggle at becoming a starter because of these weaknesses. However, we have seen quarterbacks who do not have elite ball skills still have success.
I think Haener projects to be at least, a high-level backup in the NFL and could turn into a starter if he lands in the right situation. If the Broncos are looking for competition at that position, I could see Payton and the Broncos interested in Haener.