1) Introduction: AJ Hawk came in as a highly touted 5th overall selection in the 2006 NFL draft. Since then, his career can be described as “steady”; drafted as the most “NFL ready” player in his draft he has been just that, he usually is assignment sure and consistent in tackling and in coverage, but many people have called him out for not being the “impact player” warranting a top 5 pick. It will be interesting to see what the Packers do with perhaps their deepest position. All 4 inside linebackers have sizable contracts (with cover specialist Brandon Chillar receiving one last year and Desmond Bishop receiving one this year). Hawk’s contract included at $10 million base salary in the final year in order to stimulate an extension; he’s definitely not worth that much and it basically comes down to him or Nick Barnett (who has two years left on his contract).
Aaron James Hawk
Height: 6-1 Weight: 245 lbs.
3) Expectations coming into the season for that player: Significant role player – Hawk was a starter in the base 3-4 defense, but much was made by the fact that Dom Capers didn’t play any base 3-4 in the season opener and thus Hawk was on the bench the entire game. With the rise of Tramon Williams and Sam Shields, Capers took advantage of having Charles Woodson in the slot and the nickel defense became more “base” than the base 3-4.
4) Player’s highlights/lowlights: As stated earlier, Hawk’s steady game play rarely makes for highlights or lowlights. Hawk had a career 3 interceptions but none were of much note; his interception against the Lions was more because of Jahvid Best falling down on the play and his pick against Brett Farve was also a lucky interception as outside linebacker Brad Jones knocked Farve down while he was throwing. But perhaps most damning is the fact that Hawk had an interception against the Giants but the play failed to make it onto the highlights reel on NFL network. On the flip side, there aren’t many plays that show Hawk being straight off beaten due to back technique or mental errors. Overall, Hawks season is basically devoid of highlights but also lowlights.
5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: While his game play might not have netted him many highlights, he took over play calling duties after Nick Barnett went down and did an excellent job getting the defense into position and on the right page. One possible reason that Hawk wasn’t much of an impact is that often Hawk was still relaying information to his teammates when the play starts (sometimes you can see him facing the wrong way while telling something to the secondary when the play starts); being half a step slow might be detrimental to Hawk’s stat line but helped the team overall.
6) Player’s contributions during the 6-win end-of-season run: Hawk played the last 6 games of the season much like the first 6 games, without any glaring errors but without many high impact players either. Hawk does command the defense and sometimes if the plays don’t get down before the 15 second cutoff, Hawk has the responsibility of calling the play himself. While he is no Dom Capers, he certainty acquitted himself when he had to call the plays.
Season Report Card:
(C+) Level of expectations met during the season
(C+) Contributions to team’s overall success.
(C+) Contributions to team’s success during the playoff run (last 6 games)
Overall Grade for the year: C+——————
Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.