ALAMEDA, Calif. -- At first glance, the Oakland Raiders acquiring quarterback Christian Hackenberg from the New York Jets for a conditional seventh-round pick on Tuesday seems, well, counterintuitive.
After all, the Raiders already have their franchise quarterback in Derek Carr, who signed a five-year, $125 million contract extension last summer. And they return both backups in EJ Manuel, who started a game for Oakland last year when Carr was injured with three broken bones in his back, and Connor Cook, who started the Raiders' 2016 season playoff game at Houston as a rookie when Carr broke his right ankle.
But neither Manuel nor Cook truly capture the imagination, you might say, even as Cook had more team snaps than Manuel in Tuesday's opening practice of organized team activities, and threw an impressive long touchdown pass to rookie receiver Saeed Blacknall.
Then there's this: Coach Jon Gruden was more than enamored with Hackenberg when he came out of Penn State and appeared on Gruden's QB Camp show on ESPN in 2016.
Gruden's QB Camp: Comfort key to Hackenberg's success
Former Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg explains his decision to enter the NFL draft and Jon Gruden reminds him that he's not Cam Newton, but his mobility can be a great asset along with his arm strength and accuracy.
Gruden, in an ESPN Insider piece, said at the time he would be "shocked" if Hackenberg was not drafted in the first round.
"He just has to get in the right system with the right people and refocus on the small details," Gruden said at the time.
Gruden's QB Camp: Hackenberg displays accuracy
Christian Hackenberg demonstrates his footwork and accuracy, as well as unveiling some special "Penn State" themed audible calls when running drills.
Hackenberg was selected in the second round by the Jets, No. 51 overall, 49 picks ahead of Cook.
"Hackenberg threw for 3,000 yards as an 18-year-old kid in an NFL offense that is hard to execute," Gruden said before that draft. "I do not think people are giving him enough credit for that.
"We all have seen Tom Brady point to his temples countless times at the line of scrimmage. They had the same alerts and mannerisms at Penn State. For a freshman to be given that type of autonomy at the line of scrimmage is unusual. When you see the same plays from the same formations that the Patriots are running, with the same audible mannerisms, you are like, 'Wow, this is cool.'"
Gruden's QB Camp: Hackenberg must cut down on sacks
Jon Gruden reviews one of the more concerning aspects of Christian Hackenberg's career, the 103 sacks he suffered as Penn State's quarterback, and offers advice on how to avoid those concerns at the next level.
Gruden was also impressed with Hackenberg's work at the greaseboard, diagramming plays.
"I was asking him to decipher two systems, one of them from multiple years ago, all while our cameras were rolling and I was pushing him," Gruden said. "It's not easy. Hackenberg was on the board talking about H2 X Deep Over with Coach [Bill] O'Brien, and then he was discussing a jet sweep play-action pass he ran for Coach James Franklin. He was able to talk pass protection, route distribution, progressions, pick-a-sides, you name it. He had great recall of every play he took at Penn State. That says a lot."
It also says a lot about why Gruden would be motivated to acquire him two years later. Even if Hackenberg has yet to play in a regular-season NFL game.