Despite rough 2014, Hackenberg still coveted at No. 1

All college football fans can agree that Penn State Nittany Lions rising junior quarterback Christian Hackenberg had a subpar sophomore season in which he threw for 2,977 yards and had just 12 touchdowns compared to 15 interceptions.

Despite that, however, as Matt Brown of Sports on Earth put it, Hackenberg is still being viewed and coveted as the potential No. 1 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

It’s hard to argue that logic, as Hackenberg had an excellent freshman season playing for now-Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien in 2013. That season, Hackenberg threw for 2,955 yards and had 20 touchdowns to a mere 12 picks.

With great size for the position at 6-foot-4, 234 pounds, the sky appeared to be the limit.

But then James Franklin came in as head coach with a new staff, plus Hackenberg had shoddy offensive line protection and not much help from his receiving corps. Thus, he regressed.

While Hackenberg will have every opportunity to bounce back as a junior, to still have him viewed as a potential No. 1 pick is a bit of a stretch. There are plenty of other talented QBs in the field who could earn that title, like Michigan State’s Connor Cook or USC’s Cody Kessler, so to seemingly put it on Hackenberg before the 2015 season starts is a bit premature.

Granted, he could easily bounce back this season and immediately be in the first overall pick conversation, but it’s way too early to even be thinking about that. After all, the NFL Draft isn’t until next spring, so better to just focus on the upcoming season rather than where certain players will go in the draft.

Penn State opens 2015 on the road against Temple at Lincoln Financial Field on September 5.

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*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports