A.J. Hawk 2013 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

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Green Bay packers, A.J. Hawk, A.J. Hawk Packers, Packers report card1) 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.


35 thoughts on “A.J. Hawk 2013 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

  1. Hawk is 30 not 24.

    Hawk was ranked in the bottom 10% of all ILBs by PFF.

    The middle of the D was bad again this year.

    Hawk is set to be paid more tha $5 million once again in 2014.

    A mediocre player paid like an All-Pro year in and year out. Expecting the D to get better while overpaying a non-talent like Hawk is foolish.

    1. Every article surrounding A.J. Hawk can be summed up into:

      “A.J. Hawk. 5th overall pick, Patrick Willis-like expectations. Consistent starter yet has never even been in a pro-bowl nomination”.

      Packers need to find a replacement already. His departure would also provide more precious cap room.

      He’s 30, and not getting any younger. Enough is enough already.

      1. I disagree. I’ve looked through several draft reviews from that year and he was plugged as the “safest” pick in the top 5-7 that season. The most pro-ready….jack of all trades, master of none, type. Not someone who is likely to be a superstar but would anchor a defense for years.


    2. Get rid of Hawk now, don’t wait. Did you ever see him run after anyone that breaks through the line, he is slower than slow. To be a pro, you must have speed or quickness, he has neither. He’s one of the reasons that the packers get 30 points scored against them every Sunday.

    3. 5M per year is HARDLY being paid like an All Pro. All Pro get paid more like 12M+ depending on position. Wrong much?

      1. His first 7 years he was paid like a top 5 draftee and a potential pro bowl player with his initial extension so the general statement he was paid like a pro bowl player is accurate enough. As much as Thompson like the guy the fact that he restructured his contract indicate that he was over paid and the fact that he and his agent accepted that cut almost immediately tells you his value on the open market is marginal.

        1. Where did you read that the renegotiation of his contract was immediate? I was under the understanding that it took quite some time to put together. Didn’t he get additional guaranteed money out of it? That’s great security in the NFL and good motivation to restructure.

        2. I agree he might be over-paid. That wasn’t my point! Hawk lucked into circumstances a couple times. First he was drafted really high before the rookie salary cap was enforced. So he got a really big contract for being a top 5 pick. He then had his best season when the Packers needed his steady play and got another big contract. He wasn’t going to continue to get paid the large contract, but he was the only reliable ILB, so when he took a paycut it was still higher than maybe it otherwise would have been.

          None of this is Hawks fault, he’s working the system to his advantage, something all of us would do. The combination of circumstances has also kept Thompson from just releasing him.

          No ones to blame its just how the situation has taken place.

  2. I really wish Ted Thompson would have let AJ Hawk go after the 2009 season. He had his chance, and then again after 2010. Of course since 2010 was pretty much like 2013 and Hawk was the ONLY Lbr to stay healthy all year, The Packers probably wouldn’t have another SB trophy on display if Ted would have let him go.
    I love all these football geniuses who think The Packers could have done better than AJ Hawk, shows their football ignorance.
    I do believe Ted drafted Hawks replacement last year, and next year will be his last in Green Bay, unless of course the LBrs on the roster once again all are injured and Ted has to keep Hawk around to make sure their is somebody who knows what the hell is going on out there!!!!
    All time leading tackler in Packer history, yea, but he has sucked for 8 years. Idiots!!!!!!

    1. Starr57, does it really look like everyone “Knows what the hell is going on out there” now? The reason Hawk can’t cover is he’s slow. The reason so many tackles are after 7 yards is he lacks quickness. He stays healthy, no doubt about it. Perhaps you should point your idiot finger at yourself and mention the 2010 team had Desmond Bishop in the middle. I mean could you imagine if it was Hawk going after the fumble by Mendenhall in the 4th quarter? I can!

      1. “The reason so many tackles are after 7 yards is he lacks quickness.”

        Maybe the question we should be asking is why does he HAVE to make tackles in the secondary? Is it his limitations or those of others. It’s difficult to separate the two in an 11-man defense, sometimes.

        1. IMO the scheme forces Hawk to take on a lot more OL. The Weak ILB is the one that has a lot more freedom to make plays. Barnett, Bishop and now Jones are more in the playmaking role at ILB. Go look at Pitts. Timmons in Pitts plays weak (or right) ILB and makes the plays at ILB, not his counter-part.

  3. Is Hawk a ‘highlight’ reel waiting to happen..no.
    Is Hawk an unmovable object on our defense…no.
    Will Hawk ever become more than a steady ‘rock’ on defense…no.
    Do the Packers have so many steady ‘rocks’ on the defense we can so easily cast him aside….no.

    I’ll never give Hawk a Grade A or a Grade C but he does deserve a constant Grade B or B-…no more no less.

    1. Being “available” is actually worth something these days…..especially on this team. The guy is never on the injury report (insert joke about him never getting hurt because he tackles players downfield)…..GoPack!

  4. TT gave Hawk a huge signing bonus as part of a second contract after his huge rookie deal.

    Hawk counts $5.1 million against next year’s cap.

    If you are looking for the personification of mediocrity, Hawk is your poster boy.

    Too bad we could not have put those $10s of millions paid to AJ to better use.

    1. Those 10s of millions were paid to Hawk when the cap was not an issue for this team…perennially under with room to spare. Paying him that money really didn’t hurt the team.

  5. Hawk is a great player and is on the field the whole season. He took a pay cut and played his best season. He is surrounded by wet behind the ear players that get hurt if they sneeze to hard. I give the man an A-…

  6. As Barty Smith mentioned Hawk is the poster boy for mediocrity at the ILB position. To be fair there “ain’t no Nitschkes” in our ILB corps or in the line backing corps period. The fact that Hawk is still a starting player speaks to the mediocrity of our ILBs. He rarely stuffs a run play at the LOS and in coverage the opposing TE is a few steps ahead and open for a big play or TD. He gets credit for making numerous tackles but these are usually beyond the LOS and often he is tackling the runner from behind as they are going past him. He does show up and provide a body on the field so maybe that’s a positive. He does not hurt our 25th ranked defense but he doesn’t do anything to improve it either. As an 8 year vet he should be a leader on the field and an example to the younger players but he is a long way from either status. His salary will take up critical cap $s as we try to re-sign Shields and EDS and again next year when we need the $ for Jordy Nelson. Maybe he will decide to retire! BTW an 8 year vet at his salary based on his performance should receive a C. And 2013 was a good year for him. Sad state of affairs at ILB. Thanks, Since ’61

    1. Actually, its for his leadership and his availability that the team keeps him, not because he is a great player. By being entrusted to make the defensive calls is entirely about leadership. We all know he is a mediocre player, but he is absolutely a leader. GoPack!

      1. Scheny – So you define a leader as someone who calls the plays, that’s fine. I define a leader as someone who actually makes plays. A defensive leader (to me) is a player who can wreck an opposing team’s game plan like a Reggie White or Ray Nitschke. Or who can be counted on to make a play or a stop when the game is on the line. At least play like it is not illegal to make a tackle. As I have said about other defensive players on the 2013 edition of the Packers,I will repeat for Hawk, we were 25th ranked defense with him, we can be 25th ranked without him. We can trust any English speaking player to send the defensive play calls to. To find an actual on field defensive leader has become another issue entirely for the Packers. If you’re satisfied with Hawk then I am confident you are satisfied with the rest of our mamby-pamby defense as well. In that case I am happy for you. Thanks, Since ’61

        1. Since 61, we don’t have Reggie White or Ray Nitschke on this team. There will never be another Reggie or Nitschke. Making baseless personal comments about what I may or may not be satisfied with regarding our defense makes you seem like a ridiculous curmudgeon. Relax and stop being so defensive. Apparently we can’t just have ANY ENGLISH SPEAKING player to send in the calls, otherwise they would have dumped Hawk. The coaches clearly feel there is something he contributes that you or I don’t recognize from his normal play on the field. Please don’t become one of those blogging losers who can’t stand when someone disagree’s with him. These are just opionions. GoPack!

          1. Scheny – my apologies for coming on a bit strong yesterday. I am afraid that my frustration and curmudgeonry was heightened by thinking about the Packers’ defense while dealing with a nearly 8 hour airport delay. I’m not sure which is worse but taken together it’s hopeless. I probably should have stayed away from the blog yesterday. Now that I am home at last I see the error of my ways. I appreciate your feedback. Thanks, Since ’61

            1. That’s very gracious of you. Don’t sweat it. I was possibly having one of those days too. We’re all passionate and want the team to improve. We might not always agree how but it’s the discussion here that always proves so much fun. I enjoy your posts and positions. Glad you made it home safely! GoPack!

            2. Right on ’61! That post was first class, which is your norm. You didn’t seem quite like yourself yesterday, glad to see you made it home again.

  7. yea I do think Hawk had a good year by his own standards and he’s not as overpaid as he used to be due to the pay cut. however, he is still only average in the best of cases and struggles against the run. he made a few more splash plays this year but for the most part, he was the same guy he’s always been. the rest of the LB group was more lackluster and injury-prone, which made Hawk seem better.

  8. Both Packer ILBs need to be replaced. Hawk should be the second one to be replaced because he’s available far more often than Jones.

  9. I think the Packer management ought to check out his workout regiment and find out why Hawk is able to stay on the field while so many are going to the sidelines (with injuries). If they can find the fountain of health, any controversy over Hawk, his play, and his contract will be a mute point.

    1. What an observant and logical comment, how does Hawk’s program differ from the other players, a nice starting point if nothing else. All parties believe in the medical staff they have but based on the pure number of serious insiders its time to bring in an outsider or two and get there feedback. If they concur with the program, so be it, and just say it is bad luck. But, if not seriously consider their advise.

    2. Probably because the other guys are playing harder. You can pump all the Iron you want, if you tackle from behind, a player will never get hurt.
      Get rid of Hawk now.
      Have you ever seen what a 6’4″ 350-400 pound offensive lineman can do to a 6’1″ 247 defensive person?

    3. For some guys, it seems that it’s just how they’re put together. Some guys never get hurt. Some can’t blow their nose without pulling a groin muscle.

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