Jets explain one of their greatest draft mistakes ever

Two years after drafting him in the second round, the Jets finally pulled the plug on the Christian Hackenberg experiment.

The Jets traded Hackenberg to the Raiders on Tuesday for a conditional seventh-round pick in next year’s draft. This comes after Hackenberg spent two years without taking a snap in a regular-season game and was only active for five games total as a Jet.

The drafting of Hackenberg will go down as one of the great blunders in franchise history because he could not even get on the field. Now, he will try to get his career going with Jon Gruden in Oakland.

“I don’t have any regrets in this league,” Jets coach Todd Bowles said. “Obviously, a lot of picks work out and some of them don’t. It didn’t work out here. Hopefully, his career continues elsewhere.”

The trade came after the Jets’ first OTA, in which Hackenberg did not take a snap in team or seven-on-seven drills. He spoke to reporters after practice and before the trade, talking about his revamped throwing motion and seemed to express frustration that Jets coaches were not able to help him more in his first two years. Bowles said the critical comments did not play a role in the trade and the Jets had been working on this for some time. That is why they held Hackenberg out of drills in practice.

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“Hack’s a great guy,” Bowles said. “He’s 23 years old. He should want to play and he’s a competitor. I understand that.”

The Jets took Hackenberg with the 51st overall pick in 2016 with general manager Mike Maccagnan taking a gamble on a quarterback who showed promise as a freshman at Penn State but backslid in his final two years of college.

The Jets planned on not playing him at all in 2016 but were hoping he would win the starting job in 2017. Instead, he was beaten out by Josh McCown and Bryce Petty and was the No. 3 quarterback on the depth chart.

The writing was on the wall for Hackenberg as he could not even get on the field at the end of last season when McCown was injured and Petty was ineffective. When the Jets drafted Sam Darnold with the No. 3 pick last month, it left them with four quarterbacks — one too many — and Hackenberg had to go.

Bowles was asked if the Jets wasted a pick on Hackenberg.

“Anytime a pick doesn’t work out, I guess you could look at it as a waste,” Bowles said. “When it does work out, it’s not a waste. You learn lessons from everything you do in life. It’s not just draft picks and football. If anybody’s got a four-leaf clover up their butt and it’s going to work out every time, please let me know that person. It didn’t work out here.”

Why didn’t it work out here?

“I can’t answer that fully,” Bowles said. “Some players, it takes them a while to get going. Some go to Canada. Some go to different teams. Some do different types of stuff. We did everything we could to try to help him as best we could. Sometimes it just works out somewhere else.”

Before the trade, Hackenberg spoke about the lack of reps in practice and how he had worked to shorten his throwing motion this offseason.

“All I know is I’m 23 and I have a lot of ball ahead of me,” Hackenberg said. “Hell, my career hasn’t even started yet.”

Hackenberg sounded like he got more out of three months with personal QB coach Jeff Christensen than he got in two years with the Jets coaches.

“I think there were some times where I threw it really good throughout my first two years here,” Hackenberg said. “That was the frustrating part for me, the ups and downs and not knowing why, if that makes sense and not really getting any information from anybody on how to fix that, how to address it.”

Now, Gruden will get his shot to fix him.

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