With his 2023 NFL Draft scouting report, how can Fresno State QB product Jake Haener provide value to the New Orleans Saints? After being selected by Dennis Allen’s organization in Round 4, Haener appears to have his path set as a depth piece with underrated natural ability.
Jake Haener NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Quarterback
- School: Fresno State
- Year: Redshirt Senior
- Height/Weight: 6’0″, 207 pounds
- Length: 29 3/4″
- Hand: 9 3/8″
The Fresno State Bulldogs have only had three quarterbacks selected since the turn of the century — and two of those quarterbacks had the last name “Carr.” But this past April, Haener became the fourth selected, joining David Carr and Saints teammate Derek Carr in an exclusive club for the Mountain West powerhouse.
Haener’s career at Fresno State was a storied one. But it started with him at an entirely different school. Haener first joined the Washington Huskies as a three-star recruit out of Monte Vista High School in Danville, California.
At Washington, Haener played sparingly — completing just nine of 13 passes for 107 yards, a touchdown, and an interception in 2018. He’d eventually enter the transfer portal and make the trip to Fresno — less than three hours from his hometown.
At Fresno State, the local California kid thrived. 2020 got his feet wet, but 2021 was his true breakout campaign. That season, Haener completed 329 of 490 passes for 4,096 yards, 33 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. The season was highlighted by a legendary win against UCLA, in which Haener fought through injuries to drag his team to the finish line.
In 2022, Haener returned and held the ship steady in the absence of head coach Kalen DeBoer, who’d moved on to Washington. Haener completed a career-high 72.6% of his throws while amassing 2,616 yards, 18 scores, and three picks. And along the way, he led Fresno State to its first Mountain West Championship since 2018.
Jake Haener Scouting Report
- Above-average arm strength
- Above-average creation capacity and athleticism off-script
- Has the arm elasticity to adjust throwing angles and throw off-platform
- Remarkable competitive toughness and resolve
- Clutch playmaker in crucial moments
- Adept processor who can progress, manipulate, and trigger quickly
- Able to anticipate windows downfield and outside the numbers
- Accurate distributor with smooth pocket navigation
Areas for Improvement
- Overall lack of elite raw traits and creation ability
- Sometimes gets happy feet at the top of his drop
- Will drift back at times when encountering early rushers
- Inconsistent precision and touch on deep passes
- Sometimes tries to force throws slightly beyond his arm caliber
- Will try to force dangerous throws under pressure
- Lighter frame brings questions about projected durability
Jake Haener’s 2023 NFL Outlook
Past the top group of signal-callers, Haener was one of the most intriguing value passers in the 2023 NFL Draft. He graded in the early-Day 3 range, and that’s where the New Orleans Saints took him — at the back end of Round 4.
Haener wasn’t drafted as a starter or even a potential starter. While he has above-average arm talent and creation capacity, he doesn’t have the high-level natural talent coveted in early starters.
And the Saints, for the time being, are set at their top two QB spots, with Derek Carr and Jameis Winston leading the position group.
Nevertheless, Winston is a free agent in 2024, so the Saints needed another young QB to serve as a potential long-term security piece. And if you’re looking for a high-quality backup who can hold his own when tasked with spot-starting for long stretches — in the mold of Taylor Heinicke or Mike White — Haener is a very compelling candidate.
Haener has a passable baseline of physical traits, but the operational components are most impressive on his film. He’s a superb processor who goes through progressions quickly, anticipates windows, throws to receiver leverage, and has great field vision to all three levels.
He navigates the pocket well, gets consistent rotation mechanically, and has the toughness, confidence, and clutch ability to make things happen when his team needs a jolt.
His lack of elite traits will put a cap on his ceiling. But Haener is far from a liability as an athlete. At the NFL Combine, he logged a 35″ vertical and a 9’7″ broad jump — both solid numbers — and his 7.01 three-cone time was also very impressive and indicative of the agility Haener has in the pocket.
In a quality backup or spot-starter, you look for passable mobility, steady operational ability, and toughness first. Haener has all of that, and his arm isn’t half bad. He’s a passer who can keep the engine humming and carve out a respectable career for himself in the process.
With Carr and Winston both ahead of him in 2023, Haener shouldn’t see the field much, if at all, as a rookie. But assuming Winston hits the open market and signs elsewhere next offseason, Haener could be elevated to the backup spot behind Carr. There, he’d take on added responsibility, and he could eventually get his chance to prove himself on the NFL stage.
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