Green Bay Packers 2010 Player Evaluations – Defense – AJ Hawk All Green Bay Packers All the Time

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).

2) Profile:

Aaron James Hawk

Position: LB
Height: 6-1    Weight: 245 lbs.

Born: January 6, 1984 in Centerville, OH
College: Ohio State (school history)    (Hawk college stats)
Drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 1st round (5th overall) of the 2006 NFL Draft.

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


19 thoughts on “Green Bay Packers 2010 Player Evaluations – Defense – AJ Hawk

  1. Once again Hawk gets the ol’ short shrift.
    First off, I wish everyone would just shut up about him being the #5 pick in the draft. Do you ask your doctor, mechanic, accountant where he/she finished in their graduating class? Do we ask you where you rated so we can pre-judge you before reading your words? Conversely, if Shields drops an INT. or DD drops a TD do we say what do you expect from a UFA or 7th round pick respectively?
    Let it go and just judge him on his play on the field. And for that I give him a solid “B”.
    Led the team in tackles, 3 INT’s I think ranked him tied for 2nd for ILB’s, and called the D signals. Bishop et al commented how well he did at this and how he was a steadying effect for all the players on a D that finished 5th in the NFL. Give the guy his props.

    1. I think that Hawk had a solid “B” year, overall. But he still does things that I find maddening, like turning his back at the point of attack, losing all sight of the running back. And too often he is the guy in the hole getting blown out by a fullback or tight end. So let’s not overrate him, either.

    2. Agree Bubba, his #5 position means absolutely nothing now. His steady and relatively mistake free play is just what you want in the defense’s QB.

      I have to assume the $10 mil is a starting point in negotiations. If not it’s too much to pay.

  2. We could surely use his steady play and hard work influence on the field and off. However,we have a salary cap and have overpaid and WILL not pay TEN MILLION for steady.

  3. I think this evaluation demonstrates an under-appreciation that this is a team sport. His great job play calling and consistency certainly warrant higher than a C+. Amateurs focus on highlight reels.

    1. Looking at his play AND intangibles, he had a solid B year. But as I said to Bubba above, if he would learn to always keep his eye on the ball carrier, his stats would improve as well.

  4. Thomas, your analysis is right on and seems to support a middle of the road B grade. Perhaps you’re taking the #5 pick issue into account…

    1. I agree with this.

      Completely agree with what was written, but the content should translate to grades B- or B. Specially expectations met during the season. For the season, not for his career, the expectations were surpassed. Most people thought he would play base only, including the coaches, and at the end of the season, he was a key integrant to the overall defense.

  5. As well as the defense played,the setting of the defense is paramount to success which we had.The question and the rating IMO,would change to a B+ if many were to ask themselves and answer honestly,would the same season outcome have been awarded if Barnett was in play.I don’t as Hawk proved better in that area and that over comes some errors.However,Hawk must realize nobody is giving him 10 Million,but I don’t want to give Barnett 6 Million either.

  6. I’m a little late to the debate here, but I think a C+ is spot on for Hawk. After how many games this season did you say to yourself, “Wow. AJ Hawk really came through today.” Probably not that many, if any at all. Hawk was slightly above a league average LB this season, which equals a C+.

  7. Adam,
    In politics, perception is reality but in sports we actually have stats. How many games were you aware Hawk led the team in tackles or avg’d an INT every fifth game? Al McGuire had a name for an indispensable player like Hawk(I think it was cement mixer). A guy who would get the loose ball, snare an occasional rebound, play strong D; nothing flashy but at the end was a major cog in winning.
    There’s a reason his teammates voted him a playoff captain.

    1. Bubba, you make valid points. Every team needs guys willing to do the dirty work, and Hawk was it, no doubt. He just gets knocked around too much in the hole by FB and TE’s for my liking. If he could absorb the hit and not get turned around or knocked down, then his value would increase dramatically.

  8. I don’t want to give a grade on my opinion of Hawk because, like everyone else here, it would be a guess tainted by my bias. So, let’s get to the real issue and that is Hawk vs Barnett. Do the Packers need a steady intellectual influence as the defensive qb? Or, do they want a flambouyant, “trash talking” guy who is out of position more than anyother GB LB? Also Barnett is becoming an injury issue and not a very good run stuffer for an MLB.

    Personaly, I would not care too much if GB and Barnett parted ways. He’s a lockerroom agitator and was in the middle of the petty “Superbowl Picutre Event”. I liked the way Hawk ran the defense and I’d compare him favorably with Wells, the Oline qb,not fancy but disciplined and consistent. Bubba’s “Cement Mixer” is an absolutely great analogy.

    No doubt, the $10 mil is a big issue. If that can be overcome, welcome back Hawk and goodbye Barnett.

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