NFL Draft 2022: Broncos’ Nathaniel Hackett preaches patience with rookie QB class

While the Denver Broncos won't be selecting a rookie QB early in the NFL Draft, Nathaniel Hackett is hoping those players get time to learn.

PALM BEACH, Fla. — Denver Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett is off the hook. Following a blockbuster trade with the Seattle Seahawks for Russell Wilson, the first-year head coach won’t need to worry about selecting a rookie signal-caller in a year that the QB class has been labeled underwhelming.

But the former Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator has done his homework on the likes of Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett, Liberty’s Malik Willis, Mississippi’s Matt Corral, and more. And while he probably won’t coach any of those rookies, he’s preaching patience with the group.

Nathaniel Hackett’s take on the rookie QB prospects

Hackett has dealt with his fair share of developmental QBs over the years. He spent the past two seasons developing Jordan Love behind franchise QB Aaron Rodgers.

Before that tenure in Green Bay, Hackett spent three years tutoring then-Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles. Hackett also worked as the offensive coordinator with the Buffalo Bills during EJ Manuel’s first two seasons.

So, Hackett understands the growing pains that come with a rookie QB. That’s probably why he was so eager to acquire Wilson, who has turned the Broncos into an instant contender.

Speaking to the media at the NFL’s annual owners’ meetings in South Florida, Hackett said that while the Broncos chose to go the veteran route, he does see promise in the current QB prospect group. That said, he hopes those prospects get to develop at their own pace.

“I think they’re going to be really good,” Hackett said Monday. “I know that there are going to be a lot of guys that are going to get drafted and get opportunities. I always hope that a young guy can have time to train before he’s thrown out there into the wildness.”

Hackett believes young QBs require time to develop

Hackett’s outlook on patience isn’t solely in reference to this year’s rookie QB class. As a former QB coach, Hackett thinks giving young QBs the opportunity to grow behind the scenes is paramount to their long-term success in a system.

“I think the longer they can wait, the better,” Hackett said. “Just so they can learn and get prepared and get more tools to help them as they move forward because there are so many things — especially going from the college game — I think they’re all good guys, they’ve got great attributes, but once you get out in this game, it’s different. The speed, the different protection stuff, the different pressures you’re going to see.”

Allowing the rookie prospects to play behind a veteran QB could help them learn the speed of the game from the sideline. Those mental reps can make a world of difference when the bullets start to fly on the field.

For some, that opportunity will come. For others, it’ll be a trial by fire. Hackett hopes the majority of the group receives the latter situation.

“I think they’re going to be a good class,” Hackett said. “But I definitely hope that they get some time to acclimate.”

Mike Kaye is the Lead NFL Reporter for Pro Football Network. Follow him on Twitter: @mike_e_kaye.

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