Trying to figure out where Christian Hackenberg is going to get drafted is a weird exercise. I don't mean in terms of his position in the Draft – it sure sounds like he's going to be a second or third rounder, much to the chagrin of the hot take purveyors at Pro Football Focus.
Instead, I mean that it's tough to figure out which teams are the most likely to take the former five-star recruit. Drafting a quarterback super high is tough, usually because it means that you want that person to step in as soon as possible and take the reigns for the next decade.
So what I've decided to do is create a full breakdown of the teams in this year's NFL Draft based on how badly they need quarterbacks. Of course, this was done through the lens of drafting Hackenberg (all assumptions in here are made using the teams as they are currently constructed, so while Los Angeles and Cleveland will probably take Carson Wentz and/or Jared Goff at Nos. 1 and 2, we'll ignore that for now), but you can just as easily replace his name with the name of any quarterback in this Draft.
So yeah, rankings are universal, analysis is done based on how Hackenberg will fit. We'll also have some other Draft stuff coming up in the coming days/weeks/etc. Cool? Sweet.
They're Not Drafting A QB
29. Green Bay
We might as well list the four teams that aren't going to take Hack barring something disastrous. Carolina and Seattle have the two best young quarterbacks in football, Indianapolis has a guy who's better than both of them (assuming Andrew Luck is healthy and is on a roster that is not put together by Ryan Grigson), and while Green Bay has the oldest QB of the bunch in Aaron Rodgers, they drafted their potential QB of the future last year in Brett Hundley (plus Rodgers isn't going anywhere any time soon).
Again, anything can happen – a Cam Newton hot take may be so hot that he decides to retire, Russell Wilson could retire and spend the rest of his life trying to build a literal stairway to heaven – but it's safe to assume that he's not going to any of these places. Plus if any of these teams draft a QB, it'll be a guy they can take in the last few rounds and stash away for like five years. That ain't Hack.
They Have Young Stars, So Nah
27. Tampa Bay
All five teams have young quarterbacks who have shown that they can really play. Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston, Blake Bortles, Derek Carr, and Teddy Bridgewater aren't perfect (well, Mariota is but his coach is Mike Mularkey), but all of them have the potential to be top-10 QBs in this league for the next 10 years. Then again, the thought of Hack in Jacksonville throwing bombs to Allen Robinson makes me smile, so free the Bortles, Jags.
They're Probably Not Drafting Hackenberg, But...
Th first two teams are run by legitimately crazy people, so never count them out. Plus it's always possible that Washington wants a backup plan in case Kirk Cousins regresses and Miami takes a quarterback so Ryan Tannehill can unfairly be the fall guy when they start 1-5 because that roster is a mess.
Buffalo seems like they have it somewhat figured out with Tyrod Taylor, who was pretty good last year. He may not have the ceiling of Mariota/Winston/Bortles/Carr/Bridgewater, but he could end up being a serviceable quarterback for some time. If the team decides that Taylor isn't the future, though, they can/will fly up these rankings. This also means Christian Hackenberg could be the starting quarterback for the Buffalo Bills, which *gulp*.
They Have A Elite Quarterback So Nah
Joe Flacco just got paid, so.
Same As Baltimore But I Can't Make Joe Flacco Jokes
Both of these teams have younger quarterbacks – Andy Dalton is 28, Matt Ryan is 30 – that seem to be pretty firmly entrenched as franchise dudes. Will Ryan or Dalton ever win a Super Bowl? Probably not, but they're the caliber of quarterbacks who are really good starters and probably won't give up their spots any time soon. I suppose the thought of Atlanta taking a QB who sits for three years and takes the reigns when Ryan is 34 (his birthday is in May) isn't the craziest idea on the planet, but it's probably not happening this year, mostly because Matt Ryan will likely still be good when he's 34. Still, I got the warm and fuzzies thinking of Hack throwing to A.J. Green and/or Julio Jones.
17. New England
13. Kansas City
12. New York Jets
All of these teams either: A) have a younger starting quarterback (Houston, Detroit, Kansas City, Philly) or B) seem to have some semblance of a backup plan for when their aging QB's career ends (New England, New York). Of that first group, Kansas City is the highest since their QB is the oldest – Alex Smith turns 32 this spring – but it's not crazy to think that they want to take someone to groom for three years until Smith's contract is up in 2019. My gut says Hackenberg wouldn't be that dude because he's a weird fit in an offense predicated on short, quick, accurate throws, but hey, anything can happen.
Houston just gave a bunch of money to Brock Osweiler and Detroit probably won't move on from Matt Stafford unless the wheels completely come off (which very well could happen, but it's the Lions so foresight isn't their specialty). But, of course, don't count Houston out because of that O'Brien fella.
The second group features two teams on the opposite end of the spectrum. Tom Brady isn't retiring until his arm falls off, and when he does, the team has Jimmy Garoppolo waiting in the wings. It's really, really hard to imagine New England going QB unless something happens to Jimmy G (and considering Gronk is on the Patriots, anything is possible). If he re-signs, the Jets have Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is a perfectly cromulent quarterback. Bryce Petty may be the future at QB, and Lord knows what's happening with Geno Smith. But if neither of them pan out and the team wants to go in a different direction, Hackenberg in round two or three may be tempting. Consider the Jets the team that can most easily springboard up this list if one or two things happen.
Philly is a pretty weird case. Yes, they have Sam Bradford, and he's decent enough. Plus they just gave Chase Daniel a 3-year, $21 million deal even though he has completed 50 passes in his NFL career. But with a new coach in town, someone who played quarterback and used to coach the position, maybe they would be interested in taking someone who could start a few years down the road (plus it does seem like they want to bring a quarterback in, although no one really knows when in the Draft). Like the Jets, they can move up these rankings if one or two things happen.
This May Be A Good Idea
10. San Diego
6. New Orleans
All of these teams have an aging quarterback (Pittsburgh has the youngest of the group, as Ben Roethlisberger just turned 34). Honestly, these are probably the most ideal landing spots for Hackenberg, as he can sit for a few years behind someone, learn an offense, get that stank from the last two years off of him, and eventually take over a relatively decent situation. Can you imagine Hack throwing to Antonio Brown, Keenan Allen, Odell Beckham Jr., Dez Bryant, or John Brown/Michael Floyd/Larry Fitzgerald? Because I'd kinda like that.
He'd Start As A Rookie
5. Los Angeles
4. San Francisco
There are a lot of really weird situations in here, especially considering that at least one of these teams are absolutely taking a QB early (as I mentioned earlier, I'd be shocked if Goff and/or Wentz isn't a Ram/Brown). But for the purposes of this exercise, we'll just look at how the teams are currently constructed and not project what they'll do in the draft.
LA's options are a guy who isn't that good (Case Keenum), the worst quarterback who attempted 200+ passes last year (Nick Foles), and a young guy who is somewhat similar to Hackenberg (Sean Mannion). If the team decides to blow it all up, though, it will be in the market for a guy early on. San Francisco and Chicago both really want to move on from the guys they have right now (Colin Kaepernick and Jay Cutler, respectively). Denver is trying to sign Ryan Fitzpatrick, but if that doesn't work out, they have Mark Sanchez and that's kind of it. Cleveland is Cleveland.
The best situation of this group is probably Denver, considering that defense is insane, the skill position guys are pretty good, and Sanchez would be a good bridge for however long it takes for Hackenberg to be game ready. Los Angeles, Chicago, and Cleveland would all be brutal for various reason (in order, no receivers, would just get compared to Cutler all the time, is Cleveland), and no one knows what Chip Kelly's offense would look like with a pro style guy like Hackenberg at the helm.
Let's wrap this thing up with my personal ranking of where I want Hackenberg to go. Rooting interests and all that aside, it looks like this:
- New Orleans
- San Diego
- New York Giants
- Kansas City
- San Francisco
- New York Jets
- New England
- Tampa Bay
- Los Angeles