1) Introduction: A.J. Hawk, the player most Packers fans love to hate. Ever since he was taken in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft, fans have come to either appreciate or despise him. As a player taken in the top five of the draft, Hawk was immediately slapped with a label of being an immediate contributor and someone who would be a superstar in years to come. Unfortunately,those expectations never did quite pan out for Hawk and some fans have resented him ever since. All Hawk has become however is a consistent linebacker who comes to work every day and plays all around solid football. Many hoped he’d become what Clay Matthews is, but Hawk doesn’t need to be that.
2) Profile: A.J. Hawk
- Age: 30
- Born: 01/06/1984 in Kettering, OH
- Height: 6’1″
- Weight: 247
- College: Ohio State
- Rookie Year: 2006
- NFL Experience: 8 years
- Career Stats and more
3) Expectations coming into the season: Entering his eighth season in the league, people finally knew what to expect from Hawk. He won’t be a stud linebacker who will put up double digit sacks every year and make the Pro Bowl year after year, but he will be someone who answers the bell every day and gets the work done as the quarterback of the defense. Hawk has missed only two games in his entire career and with the release of Desmond Bishop during training camp, all eyes were on Hawk to anchor the middle of the linebacker unit.
4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: As stated above, Hawk is the model of consistency. There was not really one game where Hawk made you want to pull your hair out. For a unit that was basically wiped out by injury, particularly at the inside position, that’s a good thing. He did drop off a bit after his stellar start the year had people whispering Pro Bowl, but he still was not a liability despite being surrounded by inexperienced players. Hawk’s best game came against the Baltimore Ravens where he sacked Joe Flacco three times. For a player who never made flashy plays, this was a huge eye opener on Hawk.
5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: It’s pretty safe to say Hawk had his best season in 2013. He had a career high in sacks with five and had one interception in Week 16 that gave the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers a shot against the Steelers. He also had the second-highest total amount tackles in his career and played with a much higher motor than many are used to seeing from Hawk.
6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Hawk had six tackles in the playoff loss to the 49ers, which tied him with Brad Jones and Morgan Burnett for the most in the game. The linebackers as whole failed to contain Colin Kaepernick when it mattered most though they did a solid job overall. Hawk won’t be the difference maker Matthews is in big games and the playoff game showed that. Still, as the defensive field general, Hawk did a decent job against the 49ers and keeping the Packers in the hunt for an upset.
Season Report Card:
(A-) Level of expectations met during the season
(B+) Contributions to team’s overall success.
(C) Contributions to team during the playoffs
Overall Grade: B——————
Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke