Three weeks after acquiring Christian Hackenberg from the Jets for a seventh-round draft pick, the Oakland Raiders have cut the former second-round quarterback from their 90-man roster, allowing them to hold onto the pick.
In other words, the Raiders decided Hackenberg wasn’t one of their top three quarterbacks, wasn’t one of their 90 most valuable players and wasn’t worth a seventh-round pick. All of this merely two years after he was selected No. 51 overall out of Penn State.
As he lingers on the very fringe of the NFL, Hackenberg is beginning to look like a historic draft bust. It’s common for quarterbacks taken in the early rounds to fail to have meaningful pro careers. It’s extremely rare for quarterbacks taken in the early rounds to have no NFL career whatsoever. Per ESPN, Hackenberg is only the third quarterback ever to take zero snaps in his first two seasons after being selected in the first two rounds of the draft — the last being Jim Kelly, who jumped to the USFL after being selected way back in 1983.
Christian Hackenberg is the only QB in the past 30+ years who was drafted in the first two rounds and never took a regular season snap. It's really incredible.
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) June 12, 2018
Hackenberg has been a polarizing player ever since his days at Penn State, where he put up unimpressive numbers but drew hype for his stature and arm strength. When he entered the NFL Draft, some observers thought he should be a comfortable first-round pick, whereas others questioned whether he belonged in the league at all.
The Jets wound up grabbing Hackenberg at No. 51 overall, but in two seasons in New York he sat behind Josh McCown, Bryce Petty, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith. He was traded in May to Oakland, where coach Jon Gruden had been a long time fan of his, but he was always a long-shot to find a role on a roster with Derek Carr, Connor Cook and E.J. Manuel. When you’re the fourth best quarterback on a roster, you don’t tend to last long.
#Raiders' Jon Gruden considered Hackenberg a first-rounder in 2016, saying he'd be "shocked" if he didn't go in R1.
Two years later, Gruden didn't even find Hackenberg worth a conditional 7th-round pick, let alone a roster spot beyond OTAs.
Life comes at you fast.
— Austin Gayle (@AustinGayle_PFF) June 12, 2018
So now Hackenberg stands on the NFL unemployment line. On one hand, the league is always desperate for quarterbacks, and someone might take a chance on a 23-year-old former second-round picks whose potential has always been tempting. On the other hand, if Hackenberg wasn’t good enough for the Jets and wasn’t worth a seventh-round pick to the Raiders, he might not have many options left.