For Franklin, that perfect scenario would afford Hackenberg the opportunity to watch and learn for an extended period of time.
"Depending on the situation he walks into, I think he can be a franchise quarterback, but I think there's very few guys that are able to walk in from Day 1 and make that transition," PSU coach James Franklin told NFL Network's NFL HQ on Thursday. "... I think the ideal situation for any quarterback, including Christian, is to be able to come in, be around a veteran quarterback that's really skilled and learn from that guy (for) a year or so. Now, when you're able to step in, he is ready to handle that situation."
Therein lies the tricky part for an NFL club assessing where in the draft to select a quarterback. Teams must factor in need with potential and the length of time needed for adequate development. The right time to select the right quarterback isn't always Round 1.
And the right time to insert that quarterback into an NFL lineup isn't always Year One.
"A lot of times you're not in the situation in the NFL to (sit for an extended period of time)," Franklin said. "If you're going to draft a guy in the first round, he's got to play. People just need to understand there's going to be growth with that. There's going to have to be some patience whenever you start a (rookie) quarterback."
Hackenberg has a strong opportunity Thursday at Penn State's pro day to show NFL coaches and scouts that he might not need as much developmental time as some believe. Among those in attendance to see Hackenberg throw and other PSU prospects work out are New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan and Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman.
Hackenberg's struggles at Penn State over the last two seasons have stemmed from a number of factors, beginning with a porous offensive line that made him college football's most-sacked quarterback. Accuracy is another concern for scouts when it comes to Hackenberg's game.
Houston Texans coach Bill O'Brien coached Hackenberg during his freshman season at PSU, which turned out to be his most productive season at the college level. If the best situation for Hackenberg isn't reuniting with O'Brien, it's likely with a club that won't need him to play before 2017.
But if he gets the necessary time to develop in the right situation, Franklin doesn't see him sitting for long.