The Jets quarterback quandry got even more interesting on Friday night when the team selected Christian Hackenberg out of Penn State with the 51st pick of the draft. Hackenberg had been linked to the Jets for days leading up to his selection after rumors about Paxton Lynch heading to Gang Green died out by Thursday night.
Once former Jets quarterback Chad Pennington announced to the crowd that the Jets had selected Hackenberg, a collective gasp could be heard in the audience in Chicago. Those dressed in Jets gear sat in their seats, with their hands on their heads in total disappointment and shock, and who could blame them. The Jets have totally made their quarterback position into the biggest joke in the NFL. Not event the Cleveland Browns can claim this much instability at the position.
In Hackenberg the Jets get a total project. He was brilliant his Freshman year under Bill O'Brien's pro style offense for the Nittnay Lions, but struggled horribly when O'Brien left for the Houston Texans, and was replaced by James Franklin. In his two years under Franklin, Hackenberg's completions percentage took a total nose dive. He completed only 55 precent of his passes in 2014, and a horrible 53 percent in 2015. Not to mention the turnovers shot up. After throwing 20 touchdowns and 10 picks his rookie year, he threw only 28 touchdowns and 21 picks in his final two years in college.
Hackenberg developed plenty of bad habits from inaccuracy, to turnovers and sacks. A lot of scouts were reported as saying they didn't think Hackenberg would do well at the NFL level. The only one who seemed enamored with the quarterback was Jets GM Mike Maccagnan, and it will be on Maccagnan for not just this pick, but an entire draft that left nothing but a sour taste in the mouths of Jets fans.
Rich Cimini, who covers the Jets for ESPN New York, called the drafting of Hackenberg a 'panic move' and he would be exactly right. This was a total panic move by the Jets, who have no idea whether Ryan Fitzpatrick is going to return or not. Instead they now have two rookie quarterback projects in Hackenberg and last year's draftee Bryce Petty, and an underachieving hot mess in Geno Smith. This is not good. Three back-ups and not one of them is a starter.
Hackenberg is not going to see the field this year, meaning that New York wasted an impact draft pick on a guy who may not see the field for two years, if he ever sees the field for this franchise.
The drafting of Hackenberg now throws another monkey wrench in the Fitzpatrick sweepstakes. Reports are the Jets still want Fitz back, but now on a one-year deal. Fitzpatrick has been looking for a long term deal in the $16 million per year range, and this will only make negotiations even more difficult. Why will Fitzpatrick sign a deal with the Jets now, when he knows he has no future with them? Why would the Jets now cave and give Fitzpatrick more than $10 million for one-year? It won't happen. If it does, than the Jets, Fitzpatrick or both parties are that desperate.
Then again, the Jets could also swing a deal with the Los Angeles Rams for Nick Foles. Yes, that rumor is now out there too. The Rams can afford to shop Foles after they drafted Jared Goff with the first pick in the draft. Goff will start, and Foles has no spot now. Three years ago, Foles had one of the best years of any career when he threw 27 touchdowns to just two interceptions for the Eagles. He has never come close to that production. Yet, he is a big armed quarterback who stands at 6-foot-6. He's got the attributes a team looks for, but the consistency has not been there.
As one can see, Maccagnan has made his search for a franchise quarterback into a total fiasco. One has to wonder how Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker feel right about now? How Matt Forte, who signed with Gang Green in March, feels right about now, and veterans like Nick Mangold and Darrelle Revis feel right about now? It can't be good. Not when a franchise can't help but keep itself in the headlines over an issue that should never have been an issue when the 2015 season ended around New Year's.
Oh, and mini camp is just weeks away. How much more fun are we in for with regard to the Jets?