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Jets have ‘high hopes for’ Christian Hackenberg, Brian Heimerdinger says

Jets draft pick Christian Hackenberg throws during rookie

Jets draft pick Christian Hackenberg throws during rookie minicamp at the team's training facility in Florham Park, N.J. on May 6, 2016. Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

The Jets hope Christian Hackenberg has a high ceiling.

During a radio interview Thursday, Jets director of player personnel Brian Heimerdinger offered his take on the former Penn State quarterback the organization took in the second round off last month’s draft.

“I think we have high hopes for Hack,” Heimerdinger said on Nashville’s 104.5 The Zone. “He had a tough time in college, but he’s an unbelievable kid. He’s real smart. I’ve really enjoyed him so far since he’s been in the building. We’ll see how he progresses over the next couple of years.”

Heimerdinger hasn’t addressed Jets beat writers since he was hired last offseason by Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan and rarely does interviews. But his Thursday radio appearance was to help promote the Heimerdinger Foundation’s annual celebrity golf charity event on June 3 in Nashville. “Drive for Dinger” — named in honor of his late father Mike Heimerdinger, a former offensive coordinator for the Titans (2000-04) and Jets (2005) — raises money to help provide meals to local cancer patients.

During the interview, Heimerdinger insisted that Hackenberg’s selection has no bearing on how the Jets view Bryce Petty, their third-string quarterback behind Ryan Fitzpatrick — should he re-sign — and Geno Smith.

“Personally, our opinion is you don’t draft on what your roster is,” he said. “We like to fill our needs in free agency and draft the best [player] available. In regards to Bryce, that’s not really a slight at Bryce any more than drafting a linebacker is a slight at David Harris in that regard.”

The Jets selected former Ohio State linebacker Darron Lee in the first round.

Even with Hackenberg on board, the front office is still focused on re-signing Fitzpatrick.

“You hope to find some middle ground somewhere,” Heimerdinger said, referring to the ongoing stalemate between the Jets and Fitzpatrick’s camp. “I think we’ve said all along as an organization that we want him back. I don’t think that’s changed at all. We’ll see how it plays out over the next couple of months. We’re hoping to get him back in.”


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