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Falling Behind the Pack: Josh Hawkins Still Rounds out thin Cornerback Group

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Falling Behind the Pack: Josh Hawkins Still Rounds out thin Cornerback Group

In the state of mediocrity that the cornerback situation in Green Bay has been for the last seven months, it's easy to forget someone who made the final roster cuts in early September of last year after going undrafted. Especially in a time where the desire for results now run heavy.

Josh Hawkins was a walk-on at East Carolina where he tallied five interceptions and 11 pass break-ups from his freshman to senior year, and since coming to the NFL, his welcoming has been far from ideal.

Hawkins didn't see much work early on with the Packers, even despite his two interceptions in three weeks during the preseason. What he did bring was serviceable depth behind what was once dubbed as a deep group of cornerbacks. With Sam Shields leading the charge and the two second-year players in Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins behind him, it wasn't hard to see why this unit was spoken of so highly.

Then came the groin injuries that sidelined both Randall and Rollins almost half-way through the season. Even prior to that, Hawkins managed to see the field - even work on the perimeter. It led to him surrendering a 73-yard touchdown to Lions receiver Marvin Jones before the end of the first half. That was just one of eight total defensive snaps during the regular season for Hawkins.

His brief action in the playoffs doesn't offer much to write home about either. Hawkins saw the field against the Cowboys in the NFC Divisional round but gave up a 24-yard completion to Cowboys receiver Terrance Williams late in the fourth quarter while the Packers were nursing a 31-28 lead.

Hawkins did, however, see special teams work throughout the campaign with 92 special teams snaps, which ended up finishing as the second-most of any Packers cornerback.

Being one of the six undrafted rookies to initially make the team's roster, Hawkins became one of the 53 players to hold a reserved spot with the Packers at 5'10" and 189 pounds. The similarities to Shields were striking - at least to me last June.

"It helps Hawkins (5'10", 189 lbs) that he had a similar showing at his Pro Day in comparison to Shields' (5'11", 184 lbs) in 2010. Both clocked in with a 4.3 40-yard dash, with a slight nine-hundredths of a second advantage to Shields who played wide receiver before being transitioned to a full-time cornerback. Hawkins takes the edge with a 40.5-inch vertical jump while Shields rests not far behind at 39 inches - a smaller corner's bread and butter."

From safety to running back in high school, some may argue Hawkins probably earned less than half of the $450,000 issued to the Winston-Salem native in his first season. But cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt Jr. has an interesting specimen on his hands; a specimen he may find intriguing himself considering the Packers haven't entertained the idea of releasing the 24-year old.

The Packers have Hawkins to fall back on if he can take the next step in 2017. They also have fellow undrafted cornerbacks that round out the depth chart in Herb Waters, LaDarius Gunter and Makinton Dorleant.


Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (20) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

slit's picture

The fact that we're even discussing Josh Hawkins, tells you how bad of a state the secondary is in; but don't tell TT that!

dobber's picture

I think it just tells us that we're in the doldrums between the start of FA and the lead-up to the draft.

Bearmeat's picture

"The Packers have Hawkins to fall back on if he can take the next step in 2017."

And this, to me, is the problem with TT's team building philosophy. We are left hoping that young guys step up at: CB, RG, RB, boundary speed WR, ILB, DT, and OLB.

That is over half the team!! And much of it could have been avoided with judicious use of free agency over the past 12 months.

Draft and Develop only works to BUILD a team from scratch. It DOES NOT work to better an already established team.

Ted Thompson is a good team builder. He is not an above average championship contending GM. And he will never change.

Please TT, retire.

stockholder's picture

Fall Back on a 5'10" guy? You just opened the door for Adoree Jackson, Jourdan Lewis Jalen Myrick, and Budda Baker.

dobber's picture

wrong place...

dobber's picture

IN EDIT: keeps putting this reply down here, even though it's supposed to go on Bearmeat's comment above...

What is an "above average championship contending GM"?

Let's be realistic about Hawkins: he showed well enough in camp that he made the team when Dorleant (who everyone seemed to be much higher on) got hurt and Goodson served his suspension. Dorleant and Goodson will be lucky to play in 2017. If the Packers draft a CB early, which everyone expects, with House, Randall, Rollins, and Gunter ahead of him--assuming they all make it out of camp healthy--he's at best the 6th CB and will be lucky to make the team. If he jumps over someone in the pecking order, more power to him.

croatpackfan's picture

EDIT: Same here. I was replying on Bearmeat post...

Well it is much more logical to expect from young players to take next step than from old players.
I know that we all would like TT to sign shutdown corner, but true shutdown corners were not available this FA. Guys who were available are very good corners, but they were asking for to much money, shutdown corner money. I understand why TT did not want to pay them that money.
You have, what, 5, 6 shutdown corners in NFL (ok, maybe one or two more) and all of them are under contracts. Sam Shields is retired.
So, yes, I think Packers should bet on young players to take next step or two...

Bearmeat's picture

You're missing the point: I'm saying that OF COURSE we should expect young players to step up. But we should also hedge our bets by signing some vets. This 1. Builds depth along the team. 2. Builds competition. The best player - either the ascending young guy - or the grizzled vet, will play.

croatpackfan's picture

I tend to learn on history. And history telling me that signing FA may be very risky. Why? Because you can not teach old dog new tricks. And every player is not suitable for every defense. Look at House. Very good stats when he was playing man press D, but, when jags started to play zone D, House found himself on the bench...
From that I learned that very good CB might not suite for Packers. And I, admit, do not know enough to judge which FA suits Packers and which not.
As far as I'm informed, all good available CB were not shutdown CB. So, why to spend money on player you might not be able to use efficiently.

Nick Perry's picture

BM and I are on the same page when it comes to TT. I also agree and understand his comment 110% about TT not really being the best GM on a championship contending team. It's not so much he doesn't know how, but more he just refuses to do it. He will continue to roll the dice and HOPE last seasons draft picks or UDFA pan out instead of bringing in a veteran he knows could do the job.

In 2006 he brought in 2 excellent FA additions in Pickett and Woodson. Granted we didn't know what Wood would bring due to injuries in prior seasons in Oakland but that didn't stop TT from giving him a $52 Million contract at the time. Those 2 players were HUGE in bring a title to GB in 2010. Matter of fact I think it's safe to say they don't make the playoffs as a Wildcard without them in 2010.

Fast forward to 2012 and beyond. At various times the Packers seemed to head into a season with a glaring need at some position. Remember MD Jennings and McMillian? Remember Hawk and Jones? Remember the TE and RB positions for a few years after Grant and Finley and before Lacy and Cook? Have we REALLY found a suitable replacement for Bishop? Ted HAS drafted Ryan and Martinez and I like them both but that word "Hope" is attached, just like it is this year with Randall, Rollins, Lowry, Frackrell, and the easiest position in all of football to replace...Right Guard.

Funny thing about us fans myself included....Time seems to heal all wounds. After the blowout to Atlanta this season or losses in other seasons several people here were ready for Thompson to retire, be fired, whatever. They were ready for TT to be gone. A few months later many of those people are loving Ted again. They STILL mention signing Woodson and Pickett even though it was 12 years ago. They still mention the 2010 SB even though it was 7 years ago. I get it, it's HARD to reach the SB AND win it. But the Packers have something 30 other teams don't have. A QB like Aaron Rodgers. It's time to quit pissing years away and start surrounding Rodgers with what he needs to win SB's, not NFC North Titles.


stockholder's picture

I don't love TT! I wish he would retire! But TT was not wrong about the 2017 Free Agency class. And were stuck with him! And this crapy defense! Lots of people are on the fence again. Wait till after the draft. If he doesn't get Watt, The chatter will start again. The only other player where he could save face is McCafferey. Especially after reaching for Randall.

Matt Gonzales's picture

If he shines in special teams, great. Keeps another DB from possibly getting hurt on those roles. But he will probably stay on the bottom of the depth chart and spend most weeks as a game day inactive

Ryan Graham's picture

Packers talk got real slow didn't it?

The young cornerbacks are going to develop, all to different levels at different rates. I doubt all of Hawkins, Goodson, Waters and Dorleant make the team. Only enough roster spots, no need for seven or eight corners if they draft one. At least two, probably three of them will go back to the PS provided the position groups remains healthy this year.

OrganLeroy's picture

Goodson is useless except on ST's and the best way to help this secondary is to vastly improve the pass rush from the OLB's. A lot of analysts and fans are obsessing with CB, there's no way this CB group improves dramatically with 1 or 2 more rookies, but the secondary as a whole improves if 1. they stay healthy and 2. Our pass rush becomes FEARED. OLB is our greatest defensive need and should be top priority in this draft.

ironman3169's picture

I've been saying it all through this corner back obsession. PASS RUSH!!!!!!

The TKstinator's picture

No argument that a ferocious pass rush helps the corners, but, won't 52 and 53 do the majority of the rushing from the OLB spots? Or do you see the rush coming from somewhere else/someone else? Gotta think that recent (and current) financials almost mandate that 52 and 53 get the lion's share of the rushing chores.

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

The TKstinator, I'm glad I finally got through to you. I knew that College education would pay off one day. The problem is, I don't know about 53, but 52 isn't worth 1/3 of what he is getting if he plays like last year. What do you want to do about it? I believe it starts up front. DPF says they compliment one another, & he's Right, but we haven't had either in the past 5 years. No Pass Rush, & No Secondary. A complete waste of Draft Picks & Money. Someone didn't, or isn't doing their job, right???

As I posted the other day, I went to college in WI. (Law School). The problem was, I could never pass the Bar. Wylers Teen Bar in Port Washington, & Marty Zifco's Teen Bar in Hartford. Any of you WISCONSINITES Remember them. Those Were The Days!!

lou's picture

That is as correct and simplistic as it can be stated DesertPackFAn, for someone to downgrade this they have to have a grudge against you.

MITM's picture

Ricky Jean Francois visiting Packers

frank the fork's picture

Relax, by July the Packers will have 30 plus new ballers to grade. Come Sept 1 the Packers will have 15 new faces as usual . The problem being a gm like TT is the uncontrollable future injuries that happen every year once you've decided on the 53. Depth is the key!
Next man up is the motto.

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