NFL Insider: One Rookie QB Perfect Fit In AZ

By Cuyler Meade

Outside of the Arizona Cardinals’ front office, and for all we know inside it as well, nobody is quite sure what the Redbirds are targeting in the upcoming NFL Draft.

But if quarterback is on their minds, NFL Network insider Albert Breer has a few thoughts on who might fit in well.

Jared Goff and Carson Wentz are going to be gone by the third pick, that much is certain but there’s a chance at 29, or even 92, that the Cards will have a few interesting prospects to choose from. So whom does Breer like to come to the desert?

“I think Christian Hackenberg, who is probably as polarizing a prospect as I’ve come across in my years of asking people who really know,” Breer told Sports360AZ.com’s Brad Cesmat during a recent phone interview.

“I’ve talked to some people who think he shouldn’t be drafted, which seems crazy, but there are some people out there who look at his tape and say he just doesn’t have it.

“Then there are other people who will tell you that he absolutely is a first-round talent and could be wortha first-round pick because of the physical ability, the head for the game, the pro-style offense as a freshman under Bill O’Brien.”

So what’s the cause for the discrepancy?

Hackenberg had an impressive first season as a starter, in 2013, when he completed 58.9 percent of his passes for 2955 yards and 20 touchdowns. But he got worse, statistically, in 2014 and not much better than that in 2015, posting a poorer completion percentage in each successive season. Though he cut down on the interceptions by his junior year, he also threw for his fewest yards that season.

So why isn’t Breer concerned?

“Those people (who like Hackenberg as a prospect) tend to blame (Penn State coach) James Franklin a little bit more for what happened the last couple of years,” Breer said. “And the scholarship reductions. Those really came to roost the last few years, because the lost recruiting classes, those classes were becoming juniors and seniors over the last two years, and that’s when it really started to hit.”

Breer thinks the ability is there, and based on what he’s been told, a chance to learn might be just what Hackenberg needs.

“I think that actually could be a pretty good marriage,” Breer said of Hackenberg playing with the Cardinals. “Because you will be giving him the chance to learn from Carson Palmer, and everything I”ve heard is that he’s got a pretty good demeanor for the game, so he’d be able to take the hard coaching that he’d get in Arizona.”