Add NFL Media analyst Charles Davis to the list of those that see the highest of NFL draft potential in Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg, despite a rough sophomore season that fell short on both production and expectations.
"I see (a) guy who could be everything, I see a guy who could be the No. 1 pick in the draft," Davis told The Associated Press.
Davis didn't indicate how soon he expects Hackenberg to be draft eligible. As a junior this fall, he could be available in either the 2016 or 2017 NFL Draft, depending on whether he applies for and is granted early draft eligibility after the 2015 season. But former Detroit Lions president Matt Millen, who played for Penn State in the late 1970s, believes Hackenberg will enter the draft in 2016 as a top-five pick.
"This is going to be his last year, too," Millen said last month. "I don't see him staying four years. He is really talented. ... He's a top-five pick."
An NFL scout recently echoed Millen's assessment of Hackenberg's draft potential. But for the former five-star recruit, potential hasn't yet crossed paths with production. Hackenberg threw only 12 touchdown passes last season, just four in Big Ten play, and threw 15 interceptions. However, his protection was awful -- he was sacked 44 times -- and Penn State coach James Franklin is quick to point out that Hackenberg's struggles last year weren't all his own fault. PSU was also inexperienced at wide receiver, giving Hackenberg the toughest of circumstances.
Clearly, bigger things are expected in 2015.