Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener’s peak moments this season have garnered the attention of many. While he’s no consensus first-round pick, he’s made his way into several analysts’ top 10 and top-five rankings as the season has progressed.
Right now, Haener is coming off of a standout performance in the Bulldogs’ 34-7 win over the New Mexico Lobos in which he completed 24-of-31 passes for 300 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions.
So far this season, Haener has completed just under 67% of his passes for 28 touchdowns with nine interceptions, with seven games this year in which he’s completed 68% or more of his passes. While he’s struggled with some levels of inconsistency at certain points, as his four games with a completion percentage of under 60% this season would suggest, there’s a lot to like about what Haener brings to the table, especially as a player who was flying under the radar for a long time.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound senior has a more than sufficient level of mental processing, above-average arm strength, and has a great amount of poise in the pocket—he isn’t afraid to stand in and take a hit. Athleticism isn’t something to write home about when it comes to Haener, though he has proven he can take it in the end zone three times this year with three ground touchdowns, for what that’s worth.
As far as the intangibles go, one of Haener’s best displays was in his fourth game of the season, a 40-37 win over No. 13-ranked UCLA. Haener completed 39-of-53 passes for 455 yards—still the season high for him—with two touchdowns and one interception.
The story of that game, outside of the numbers and it being one of his best overall performances as a quarterback, was the amount of toughness he showed as he fought through a right hip injury to deliver a touchdown pass that won the game for his team in the final 14 seconds of the matchup. That’s someone a team can get behind and who coaches can trust to be able to make things happen in unlikely situations.
And if you’re a fan of improvisation and success while doing so, this is the quarterback for you—look no further than that first clip for a play that looked dead in the water at one point only for Haener to get it off and make something positive of it:
As of right now, expect Haener to be a player who could potentially go late on Day 2 or early on Day 3 of the 2022 NFL Draft. It will be interesting to see if he can build off his recent momentum and just how much he can continue to increase his draft stock as Fresno State faces San Jose State on Thanksgiving to wrap up the regular season.
He’s very much a developmental prospect, but in the right landing spot, he could become one of the better backups in the league—and perhaps a bit more if he can surprise everyone at the next level the same way he has when he’s flashed during this season.