Jon Gruden on Hackenberg: I’ll be shocked if he’s not a first-round pick

ESPN football analyst Jon Gruden loves quarterbacks. Often times, you will have to listen to him gush about a signal-caller on each and every play that he is involved in the broadcast. That love of quarterbacks has lead to Gruden making one of the most outlandish comments of the draft process.

In a recent piece on ESPN.com, Gruden shared his five takeaways from spending time with Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenberg.

Gruden kicked off the piece swinging for the fences with the statement, “I’ll be shocked if Hackenberg is not a first-round pick.”

At one point, that would not have been a ridiculous claim.

However, Hackenberg has watched his stock drop drastically since being considered a potential No. 1 pick. Now, he is expected to be selected in the mid-to-late rounds. That is a surprise to Gruden, though.

“The biggest surprise to me on Hackenberg is that no one is really talking about him in the first round. This was the No. 1 prospect in the nation a few years ago and someone who showed during his freshman year he could produce at a high level in a true NFL-style offense,” Gruden explained.

“What he showed during that first year at Penn State — before the coaching change, before the system change, before all the things that derailed him — would be enough for me to take this guy early. This man can run a 4.7-second 40, he is tough as hell and he works relentlessly. He just has to get in the right system with the right people and refocus on the small details.”

Gruden is right that Hackenberg showed flashes of brilliance under former head coach Bill O’Brien. That is a large reason for analysts claiming Hackenberg’s best chance at NFL success would be landing with the Houston Texans, who are now led by his former college coach.

But the Texans signed Brock Osweiler in free agency, so would they consider Hackenberg? We will get that answer in just over a week.

One thing is for certain as the draft approaches, however, and that is either Gruden or the rest of the world is going to be shocked by the inclusion or absence of Hackenberg’s name in the first round next week.

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*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports