NFL

Patrick Mahomes Would’ve Been a New York Jet If It Wasn’t for Christian Hackenberg

Patrick Mahomes has quickly turned the Kansas City Chiefs into the best team in the NFL, but he almost ended up with the New York Jets on draft night.

Jets’ former general manager Mike Maccagnan had the chance to bring Mahomes to New York with the No. 6 overall pick. The soon-to-be Super Bowl MVP was still on the board waiting to hear his name called, but Maccagnan passed on Mahomes because he thought the Jets already had their franchise QB on the roster. That QB was Christian Hackenberg.

The Jets passed on Patrick Mahomes in the 2017 NFL draft

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Mahomes was an electric college football player at Texas Tech. He could make every throw in the book, and his arm strength and play-making ability were by far the best of the 2017 NFL draft prospects.

The Jets had a chance to draft Mahomes with the No. 6 overall pick. New York worked out Mahomes before the draft and hosted him for a visit before that fateful April day. Somehow, Maccagnan wasn’t impressed enough to pull the trigger on Mahomes at No. 6.

OK, that’s fair. Nine other teams passed on Mahomes before he finally fell to the Chiefs at No. 10, so the Jets aren’t the only ones who missed the boat on the generational talent. But the reason Maccagnan had for passing on Mahomes will haunt Jets fans for years to come.

Mike Maccagnan thought Christian Hackenberg was a franchise QB

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In 2017, Christian Hackenberg was entering his second NFL season out of Penn State. The Jets drafted the former top high school recruit in the second round of the 2016 NFL draft, and Maccagnan thought he was their franchise QB for the next decade-plus, according to Brian Costello of the New York Post.

And how could he not? Hackenberg stands 6-foot-4 and weighs in at 228 pounds. He had the size, arm strength, and pocket presence that made him look like an elite pro-style quarterback, but it just didn’t translate to the football field.

The other factor Maccagnan put into the 2017 NFL draft was the crop of QBs set to enter the draft in 2018. He believed Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, and Josh Allen were more impressive than Mahomes in college, so he could fall back on one of them if Hackenberg didn’t pan out.

Well, that’s exactly what happened. Hackenberg was out of the NFL shortly after Maccagnan put all his faith in the QB, and the Jets were forced to select Darnold in the 2018 draft to replace him.

Jets fans are kicking themselves watching Mahomes thrive

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It’s one thing to pass on Mahomes if you have a sturdy quarterback situation already in place. It’s another to pass on Mahomes if that quarterback situation is Christian Hackenberg.

Hackenberg flamed out of the NFL and turned out to be one of the biggest busts in the 2016 NFL draft. A year later, Mahomes went to the Chiefs and changed the course of the Jets franchise forever.

Mahomes already has a Super Bowl ring through three seasons in the NFL. The Jets, meanwhile, have gone 16-39 since passing on Mahomes, and Darnold’s days might be numbered in New York.

Jets fans won’t be thrilled to watch Mahomes tear up their defense this Sunday as they dream of what could’ve been.