Hackenberg, Bosa top Sporting News mock draft
Put Sporting News on the Christian Hackenberg bandwagon.
Eric Galko from Optimum Scouting, put together his 2016 mock draft. At the top of it was the Penn State quarterback, who has been a hot button issue of scouts across the country.
Some said Hackenberg, who enters his third year as starter, showed too much regression in his sophomore campaign. He threw for only 12 touchdowns after he tossed 20 as a true freshman and was sacked more than anybody in the Big Ten.
But that didn’t stop Sporting News from putting the 6-4 junior as the future No. 1 pick. Ironically enough, he was slotted for the Washington Redskins, which just announced that former Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins will be the 2015 starter.
Hackenberg was given the slight edge over Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa, who was a unanimous preseason All-American.
Here’s what Galko had to say about each Big Ten prospect:
1. Washington Redskins: Christian Hackenberg, Penn State QB
After being touted as a future “Andrew Luck-level” prospect during his freshman season, Hackenberg had a disappointing sophomore campaign. Although the Luck comparisons were lofty, Hackenberg did prove in 2013 that, when he’s comfortable, he can develop into a high-level quarterback. There’s every reason to stay optimistic.
2. Tennessee Titans: Joey Bosa, Ohio State DE
Leading up to the 2015 NFL draft, the Titans were rumored to be considering quarterback Marcus Mariota, their eventual draft pick, or defensive lineman Leonard Williams. After opting for the quarterback last year, they can opt for an even better version of Williams in 2016.
5. Chicago Bears: Cardale Jones, Ohio State QB
Despite the salary cap impact of potentially cutting Jay Cutler in 2016 ($13 million in dead cap space money), all signs point to this being his final season in Chicago. If Cardale Jones enters the draft, he has shown enough to prove he’s capable of being a Cam Newton-esque quarterback to develop.
9. Oakland Raiders: Jack Conklin, Michigan State OT
For the last few years, the Raiders’ offensive line has been a mess, trying to work with mid-round picks and spotty free agents. But free agent Rodney Hudson and 2014 third rounder Gabe Jackson can begin that turnaround. Adding another top offensive lineman could give Derek Carr the protection he needs to get Oakland out of the AFC West cellar.
10. New Orleans Saints: Anthony Zettel, Penn State DT
As a slightly undersized interior defensive lineman, Zettel may be perceived as a reach in the top 10. But the last time an undersized, elite first-step, productive defensive tackle fell out of the top 10 because of size, Aaron Donald went on to become a Pro Bowler as a rookie. Zettel does so many things well with his hands and first step quickness, and is a worthy option.
12. Buffalo Bills: Connor Cook, Michigan State QB
While I’m a Tyrod Taylor fan, he’s a long-term answer for a team on the cusp of playoff potential. I’m not sure Cook is either, but as of now, he’s the third quarterback in a 2016 draft that will likely have many suitors for a potential franchise passer. Cook could very well end up in the draft’s second or third round if not for team need.
19. Baltimore Ravens: Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State RB
Justin Forsett is set to lead the Ravens in carries (by a lot), but he’ll be 30 by midseason and can’t be counted on to lead the offense after 2015. Elliott, assuming the role of the 2016 class’ best runner so far, would give quarterback Joe Flacco and this offense their most talented runner since Jamaal Lewis.
22. Carolina Panthers: Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State DE
With Greg Hardy off the team, the Panthers are relying on a committee approach for their defensive end role. Calhoun, not a flashy edge player but a solid strongside defensive end who sets up teammates well, could return this defensive line unit into a strength.
24. Denver Broncos: Taylor Decker, Ohio State OT
Even when Ryan Clady is healthy, the Broncos need to improve their offensive line for the future. Decker, Ohio State’s left tackle leader the last two years, has awesome length and fluidity in his lower half to protect the edge. His upside may be capped, but he’s a late-first round, NFL-ready offensive lineman.
28. San Diego Chargers: Leonte Carroo, Rutgers WR
With less than ideal size and likely to post lackluster times in the postseason draft process, Carroo may be a hard sell as a late first rounder. But with outstanding route quickness and after-catch elusiveness, he looks to be a plug-and-play, high-level slot receiver on the NFL level.
29. Philadelphia Eagles: Adolphus Washington, Ohio State DT
Joey Bosa is the fan favorite leader of the Ohio State defense, but Washington may be as important and as impactful to the defense as Bosa. He finishes when he has one-on-one opportunities as a rusher and uses his length to benefit in the run game. Both Vinny Curry and Cedric Thornton are set to be free agents, leaving a void at 5-technique.