Jets’ draft bust says New York was the ‘last place I should’ve gone,’ says team had ‘no plan’

June 7, 2024
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It seems like every quarterback the New York Jets acquire turns into a bust.

Since 2000, the Jets have taken seven quarterbacks in either the first or second round. 

Chad Pennington, the 18th pick in 2000, is probably the best of the bunch that also included Mark Sanchez, Kellen Clemens, Geno Smith, Christian Hackenberg, Sam Darnold, and Zach Wilson.

Even the four-time MVP they traded for, Aaron Rodgers, ruptured an Achilles on just his fourth play in a Jets uniform.

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Hackenberg with Jets

Christian Hackenberg of the New York Jets warms up before a game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium Dec. 31, 2017, in Foxboro, Mass. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

One of those seven QBs says the Jets had “no plan” when he was with the team.

The Jets surprisingly selected Hackenberg with the 51st pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, even though they had Smith and Ryan Fitzpatrick, who became the franchise’s first quarterback to throw 30 touchdown passes months earlier.

As highly touted as he was out of Penn State, the Jets’ selection of Hackenberg didn’t seem to make sense, and Hackenberg seems to agree.

Christian Hackenberg

New York Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg during a preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles Aug. 31, 2017, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. (Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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“New York was probably the last place I should’ve gone, in terms of the market, the expectations, the way it was,” Hackenberg told the “Ross Tucker Football Podcast” Wednesday. “In my rookie year, we ended up keeping four quarterbacks (Smith, Fitzpatrick and 2015 fourth-rounder Bryce Petty). So there was just not a lot of opportunity for me to develop and grow. 

“No plan, kind of an up-and-down organization. And I think it was just one of those things where the timing and where it ended up just wasn’t in the cards for me at that position.”

Hackenberg never played in a regular-season game for the Jets — or in the NFL, period — and was traded for a seventh-round pick in 2018.

Hackenberg was the best quarterback of his high school class and threw for nearly 9,000 yards in his three seasons at Penn State, but he never lived up to the hype or draft stock.

Looking back, Hackenberg seemed to admit he wasn’t quite ready.

Christian Hackenberg in preseason

Quarterback Christian Hackenberg of the New York Jets calls a play against the New York Giants during a preseason game Aug. 26, 2017, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.  (Al Pereira/Getty Images)

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“There’s so many circumstances that go into it. And when I came out, I still knew that I needed a lot that I needed to get better at,” Hackenberg said. “But, at the same token, I also had all these expectations and the narrative out there that this kid was going to be good. It was just this really kind of battle internally and then externally with messaging and how things were being portrayed that I had to deal with.”

The Jets haven’t made the playoffs since 2010.

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