The Jets possibly didn’t devote a second-round pick to quarterback Christian Hackenberg to have him hold a clipboard in 2016.
G.M. Mike Maccagnan told WEPN-FM in New York on Monday that Hackenberg could play as a rookie.
“I think, with any player coming into the league, there’s definitely a maturation process, and it doesn’t matter, again, what position you play,” Maccagnan said, via Dom Cosentino of NJ.com. “I think quarterbacks are probably one of the harder positions to transition into the NFL. I know there’s always a desire and feel to have them go out there and play right away. The reality of it is, though, it’s going to be determined by how he does. And I think my personal opinion is we’ll see where he’s at and how he is in terms of assimilating to our offense and our system. But like I said, I think it’s a natural maturation process.”
Maccagnan apparently hopes that Hackenberg, who played his best college football as a true freshman at Penn State, will have an extended maturation process.
“I think in a perfect world, especially with quarterbacks — some quarterbacks come in and play right away, and some do well, and some struggle, and they go through growing pains,” Maccagnan said. “But I think at the end of the day, in a perfect world, you like to give those guys a chance to sort of grow, develop before you have to throw them into the fire.”
Maccagnan also addresses a broader question that many Jets fans have asked since the Hackenberg pick was made: Why him?
“I can’t really have insight into how everybody views him and sees him,” Maccagnan said. “I just know that we liked him and we thought he was a good prospect. Again, there’s risk. We know that. But we also think that there’s also a lot of potential there to develop into a very good player, too.”
By rolling the dice on Hackenberg, Jets management now has a vested interest in him, which means at some point they’ll get him onto the field to see what he can do. If Ryan Fitzpatrick returns, that likely won’t happen at least until the Jets are eliminated from postseason contention in 2016.
If Fitzpatrick doesn’t re-sign, who knows? The Hackenberg Show could be debuting just down the road from Hackensack.