Last week the Raiders made the move to trade for former Jets QB Christian Hackenberg. And whether he is on the Raiders Week 1 roster does not matter much.
They sent a conditional 7th round pick. That condition is more than likely that Hakenberg make the roster. So there is no risk if he doesn’t make the team. They lose nothing. However, the rewards if Jon Gruden can have the Midas Touch with him could be significant.
Good reserve quarterbacks are extremely valuable chips to hold even if they never play a regular season snap for the team. If the Raiders can help Hackenberg with his fundamentals and get him playing to the potential that made him a second round pick he could become a valuable asset.
First of all, you never know when your backup will become your starter. Should he step in and play well the Raiders could get a lot back in trade.
If Gruden does coach the best out of Hackenberg then he would have predicted it during his Quarterback Camp ESPN episode with him. He said in the episode that Hackenberg just needs the right system with the right people and to refocus on the small details with his play.
Whatever that system is, he clearly did not get it in New York, but if that’s really what he needs to meet his potential he has another chance now under a new coach. The Raiders saw something they liked anyway, even if Gruden didn’t go into much detail about their interest in him in his conference call with season ticket holders.
“We’re looking for players. We’re looking to get better every day, and Christian Hackenberg was available. He was a second-round pick. He did some really encouraging things at Penn State. He had some ups and downs. We’re going to look at him, and we’re going to make it very competitive to see who Derek Carr’s backup is.”
The ironic part is not having the attention he had hoped for was essentially Hackenberg’s last comments before he was jettisoned out of the big city. In his last interview before being traded to the Raiders he had lamented about how frustrated he was with the lack of feedback on his up and down struggles. A lack of feedback should not be a problem now that he is playing under Jon Gruden in Oakland.
It could be that Hackenberg really is just a bust but even so it wasn’t the Raiders who spent a 2nd rounder on him, just a conditional 7th. There is a bit of a red flag when the player blames the coaches like he did before being traded, but there is the chance he was telling the truth on not being coached the way he needed to be to get better too.
Either way he got his wish now. Let’s see what he does under a coach known specifically for his attention to the QB position. If all he turns out to be is just a bust 2nd round pick and not worth a roster spot the Raiders can cut him and not regret it. He is worth the effort to see if he can become an NFL caliber QB and if not then there is little punishment for having given it a shot.