Christian Hackenberg talks James Franklin, Bill O'Brien at combine presser
Few prospects have generated the buzz Christian Hackenberg has.
He came to Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine still an enigma after three up and down years at Penn State. That’s been well documented.
The final two years, which saw more downs than the first year, were with James Franklin at the helm. Many are still wondering whether or not Hackenberg’s regression was a result of Franklin’s offense or if he simply peaked as a freshman.
When Hackenberg announced his early declaration for the draft following the TaxSlayer Bowl, he didn’t address Franklin directly by name. The former Lion signal-caller had a chance to clarify his reasoning for that on Thursday at his combine press conference.
He said that he wanted to thank all the people who got him to Penn State, which happened while Franklin was still at Vanderbilt. Still, Hackenberg was asked about his relationship with Franklin.
Hackenberg on James Franklin: "We're fine. I think he's doing a great job recruiting & getting the program headed in the right direction"
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) February 25, 2016
The guy who helped get Hackenberg to Penn State, Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien, just so happened to be speaking at a different podium at the same time. There’s been talk of a reunion given Hackenberg’s success under the former PSU coach and the Texans’ need for a quarterback.
Still, Hackenberg didn’t fall for the bait when asked about O’Brien.
Christian Hackenberg was asked 3 times about Bill O'Brien specifically. All 3 times he redirected the conversation to a broader topic.
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) February 25, 2016
O’Brien didn’t want to show his hand, either. He said that “Christian can throw the football, he’s got a strong arm, he’s a big guy, he’s smart, he was able to learn quickly when we had him at Penn State.”
But it didn’t go much further than that.
Bill O'Brien's not sure if christian hackenberg has starter ability in the NFL. Said its just so hard to be a starting QB in the NFL
— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) February 25, 2016
Hackenberg did mention that he benefitted greatly from being O’Brien’s next quarterback after he was the offensive coordinator for Tom Brady.
There’s still a chance O’Brien can make Hackenberg his next quarterback. Whether that’s in the first round at No. 22 or in the later rounds remains to be seen.
What remains obvious is that Hackenberg isn’t about to single anybody out in the pre-draft interview process.