I will admit that I haven’t always been the biggest fan of A.J. Hawk.
Granted, the expectations of living up to a fifth overall selection are pretty enormous. With that high of a pick, a good player just isn’t good enough. A team needs a dynamic body that can disrupt the running and passing game — in other words, a game changer.
Hawk had a decent year last season. After Week 3 he played the majority of defensive snaps for the rest of the season — including all 49 at Minnesota, all 77 vs. Chicago at Green Bay, all 62 vs. Philadelphia, all 67 at the Giants, all 83 at Detroit, all 74 at Dallas, all 60 vs. Pittsburgh at Green Bay and all 64 in the playoff loss to San Francisco at Green Bay. But of those games, he only had a positive performance in two according to Pro Football Focus.
And that continued last week at Seattle. He only played 48 of the 70 snaps but looked overmatched when he was called upon to stop the run. And it was the same story when attacking the quarterback, since he only tallied one quarterback hurry.
The 30-year-old isn’t nearly as quick as he was when he entered the league in 2006 and he has trouble shedding blocks when he is called upon to stop the run. But, since Brad Jones is so much worse, and dealing with a thigh injury that may put him out for Sunday, Hawk gets the benefit of the doubt.
But Hawk doesn’t deserve any benefit. His best season was in 2012 when he was the 21st-ranked inside linebacker, which was a year before he dropped to 47th — the lowest ranking of his career.
So, it’s not that we may see a slide from Hawk, we are actually in the middle of it. He has proven he cannot be called upon to guard athletic tight ends and he isn’t the best at stopping the run.
The Packers have him under contract through 2015 before he becomes a free agent in 2016.
That’s a lot of time to live with a guy that has been less than adequate. His poor coverage ability puts more strain on the secondary and his inability to stop the run puts more strain on an unproven defensive line that would love to have B.J. Raji this week.
Hawk may not play like it, but he is the leader of the defense. He is great at getting people in the right position.
Just don’t expect anything great from him, because you’ll be sorely disappointed.——————
Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn