We learned earlier this week that college quarterbacks Jared Goff (California), Paxton Lynch (Memphis) and Cardale Jones (Ohio State) will enter the 2016 NFL Draft. Joining them will be fellow signal caller Christian Hackenberg, who announced Saturday that he’ll forgo his final season at Penn State in favor of the pros (Twitter link via Onward State). Hackenberg is currently rated as the fifth-best QB in this year’s class, according to ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay (link via ESPN’s Jared Shanker).
Hackenberg, who will turn 21 in February, was a highly regarded recruit coming out of high school and ultimately garnered extensive experience at Penn State. The 6-foot-4, 228-pounder started 38 games and attempted nearly 1,300 passes in three seasons as a Nittany Lion, with whom he tossed 48 touchdowns against 30 interceptions. Hackenberg’s accuracy was an issue throughout his time at Penn State, where he never finished a season with better than a 58.9 percent completion rate and concluded 2015 at a personal-worst 53.3. One contributing factor was an offensive line whose struggles aided in opposing defenses sacking Hackenberg 82 times (most in the nation) over the past two years.
Hackenberg’s Penn State career ended in less-than-ideal fashion Saturday in the team’s 24-17 loss to Georgia in the TaxSlayer Bowl. He left the game early with a sprained right shoulder after completing 8 of 14 passes for 139 yards and an interception, but Penn State head coach James Franklin said afterward that the injury isn’t serious (link via Dan Parr of NFL.com).
In addition to Hackenberg, Penn State will also lose defensive tackle Austin Johnson. The potential first- or second-rounder declared Saturday that he’ll forgo his senior year to turn pro, according to Jordan Rodrigue of the Centre Daily Times.