Despite not playing a snap as a rookie, the quarterback enters offseason workouts with an elevated belief he can play at the pro level.
"Without a doubt, I think there's a different level of confidence, but I think that also goes back to Year 2 -- more comfortable in the situation, more comfortable walking in the building, more comfortable with the guys in the locker room, in the huddle," Hackenberg said Monday, via the New York Post I think just that natural growth from, I wouldn't even say confidence, but just the comfort standpoint of walking in there and doing things."
Hackenberg will compete with Josh McCown and Bryce Petty for the Jets' starting gig. McCown has the inside track to open the season as the starter, but given the 37-year-old's injury history, even if the Jets start the season with the veteran, expect the youngsters to play.
Hackenberg was active for just one game last year and spent much of the season as the team's fourth quarterback. There aren't many practice reps to be had for projects buried on the depth chart.
Despite the lack of live reps, Hackenberg says he's improved as a quarterback.
"I think I got better in a lot of ways, even going back from the day I stepped foot in the building until the end of last season," he said. "I'm just continuing to try to do that at every step of the way and continuing to try to grow because you've never met your full potential, you've never been there. You look at guys like [Tom] Brady, the best in the league at our position, and they're always trying to get better. If they're still trying to get better, then there's no reason for me not to. I'm just trying to grow in a lot of areas."
Before diving into bed with a first-round quarterback in 2018, the Jets need to find out if Hackenberg can play. Expect to see the Penn State product plenty in 2017.