It’s not news to Chris Hackett that he surprised NFL personnel, and even his own coach, by declaring for the draft as a junior.
But the former TCU safety said he didn’t do it on a whim. And he believes he is more mature than he is given credit for.
“I’ve always outgrown my age,” he said at the TCU Pro Day in March. “I’m 21 years old, but maturity-wise, I’m probably 24 or something like that. I always handle things in a business-like way, and that’s how I try to go about my whole life.”
Hackett led TCU in interceptions with seven last season, giving him 12 for his three years in Fort Worth. He started 34 of his 38 games, including 10 as a freshman.
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“Hackett’s unbelievable with his eyes,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “He’s just a great free player. Reads quarterbacks really well. He had like 12 picks in high school. Great anticipation with his eyes. There’s just so many guys who can’t catch, can’t read quarterbacks’ eyes, and he did both of them for us.”
But Hackett’s draft projection varies from a fifth-round pick to a seventh-round pick or priority free agent, in part because of a poor showing at the NFL Scouting Combine.
“I think a lot of guys would have liked to have seen him stay one more year, so they’d have a little more film on him,” Patterson said. “To be honest, I’m kind of like everybody else. I’m interested in how he does, and I hope he does well. Obviously, it helps us if he does.”
NFL draft analyst Gil Brandt said Hackett benefits because he played under Patterson, whose defensive coaching is respected by NFL scouts.
“One of the things that made him good was that he was kind of a pet project of Patterson,” Brandt said. “In practice, Patterson would stand behind him, tell him what to do, how to do it, and the guy came up with seven interceptions — that’s pretty good.”
It’s that seventh interception that convinced Hackett he could make the move to the NFL.
“After the game when we beat Ole Miss, I had my seventh pick of the season in that game, I went home, talked to my parents, basically made up my mind a couple weeks after it,” he said.
Hackett laid the groundwork in his mind. He talked to Patterson, senior cornerback Kevin White, senior safety Sam Carter (who had considered declaring a year earlier, also) and other teammates.
“They wanted me to come back,” Hackett said. “I had some nudges to come back, because I love being around these guys. This is home for me. This is family. I will always be a Horned Frog. But I feel like it was the best for me.”
Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7760