(Editor's Note: With less than two weeks until the start of the 2016 NFL Draft on April 28, the staff of DallasCowboys.com intends to preview the landscape of possible Cowboys draft picks – from the top of the first round to the bottom of the talent pool. Today's featured player is Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg.)
Name: Christian Hackenberg
College: Penn State
Honors: Named Thompson-Randle El Big Ten Freshman of the Year and also named Freshman All-American by various media outlets. As a sophomore in 2014, named New Era Pinstripe Bowl MVP after throwing four touchdown passes in Penn State's 31-30 overtime win over Boston College.
Key Stat: A three-year starter for the Nittany Lions (38 games), Hackenberg set six career school records on offense, including passing yards (8,457) and touchdowns (48). He's also the only 8,000-yard passer in Penn State history.
Where He's Projected: Most mock drafts view Hackenberg as a likely Day 2 pick, meaning second or third round, in the next wave of quarterbacks widely projected to go off the board after Jared Goff, Carson Wentz and Paxton Lynch.
How He Helps the Cowboys: It's well documented the Cowboys have done their due diligence on a variety of quarterback prospects in this year's class. The organization has stated it would like to develop a young quarterback behind Tony Romo, but the opportunity will have to present itself on draft weekend relative to their board rankings and their other roster needs. Hackenberg enjoyed a solid college career and has prototypical frame and arm strength for the NFL, though outside draft observers have scrutinized his accuracy and decision making from the pocket, as well as his dip in performance under a new coaching staff after his freshman year.[embeddedad0]
Scout's Take: Can make the across-the-field throws. Strong arm but not always accurate. Will move forward in the pocket. Will zip it when receiver is in front of him. Tends to make throws where he is flat footed. Does a nice job of laying the ball out there. Has some trouble with his touch passes. Tends to throw them too hard. Not the type that is going to run away from the defense, will hang in the pocket. Able to see the field. Not afraid to work in tight windows. Can throw the fade. Makes better throws when he has to move his feet. Times where he plays slow. Felt like he was more a victim of talent around him than his ability. Has all the traits but will need to be rebuilt on the mental side. – Bryan Broaddus