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Trent Dilfer Labels Hackenberg “Top-Five Pick,” Compares To Troy Aikman

Say what you will about Christian Hackenberg and his seemingly fluctuating draft stock, it’s impossible to ignore the intrigue surrounding the junior signal-caller. Regardless of public opinion, one thing is for sure: Hackenberg has some powerful supporters on his side.

Earlier Wednesday morning, ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer called into the network’s morning program to voice his opinion on the quarterback, and the curious situation he’s currently in at Penn State. Here’s what the Super Bowl winning quarterback had to say on Hackenberg:

“This isn’t because he’s an Elite 11 guy. Christian Hackenberg, once he gets out of that situation — which is not a good situation at Penn State — scouts, coaches, and general managers will drool over him. He is very, very similar to Troy Aikman. They’re the same type of body, thrower, personality, competitor, and if you go back and look at Troy Aikman coming out of college, and compare him to Hackenberg, they’re very similar. I think Hackenberg and [Cal QB] Jared Goff will both go in the top-five, and there’s a bunch of other guys we can talk about, but they’re really the two that have franchise quarterback potential.”

It’s obvious that Dilfer is a fan of both Hackenberg’s ability as a quarterback, along with his potential to be a franchise quarterback at the NFL level. But considering the onslaught of criticism Hackenberg’s faced in the last year, it’s interesting to hear Dilfer opine as he did.

The point that stands out most in Dilfer’s comments is the “bad situation” Hackenberg is in at Penn State. It’s assumed that Dilfer is referring to James Franklin’s offensive system, one that’s tailored to a more mobile quarterback rather than a pocket passer. Dilfer suggests that, despite his lack of consistent collegiate production, Hackenberg is still a highly sought after quarterback prospect in the eyes of NFL talent evaluators, and that he would flourish in an NFL offense. Dilfer isn’t alone in thinking this; over the past year, numerous NFL scouts have shared similar thoughts on Hackenberg’s potential at the next level.

All of this is pure speculation, seeing as Hackenberg won’t be going anywhere until at least the end of the 2015 season. Still, it’s easy to see physical similarities in Hackenberg and Aikman, but the comparisons don’t make Dilfer’s opinions any less bold. They just fuel the growing narrative that Hackenberg is one of the most polarizing players in the country.

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About the Author

David Abruzzese

David is a senior from Rochester, NY, nestled right in beautiful Western New York. He is majoring in Broadcast Journalism, and as an avid sports fan, he passionately supports the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres. He is the first Penn Stater from his family, and couldn’t be prouder to represent Penn State University. In his free time, he likes to alpine ski, and play golf. You can follow him on Twitter @abruz11, and can contact him via email at

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