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Great talent, attitude allow Hawk to soar

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; With A.J. Hawk, the word "extra" never comes before the word "effort" because all of his effort is extra. In Hawk's world, there aren't enough weights to lift or enough opponents' videotape to study or enough time to spend on ...

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Old 04-22-2006, 08:50 AM   #1
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Great talent, attitude allow Hawk to soar

With A.J. Hawk, the word "extra" never comes before the word "effort" because all of his effort is extra. In Hawk's world, there aren't enough weights to lift or enough opponents' videotape to study or enough time to spend on the practice field. He can't hit hard enough, run fast enough, or be smart enough in a game.

Hawk is the consummate overachiever, the consummate team player, the poster child for sheer passion and love of football.

Oh, yes, and the former Ohio State standout also happens to be a highly talented linebacker. And when you combine great talent with great attitude, you have the makings of a likely top-five choice in this year's draft.

For those reasons, Cleveland Browns general manager Phil Savage recently described Hawk as the draft's "safest pick." Given the considerable uncertainty of how the first round will shake out, particularly in the top half, that is a tremendous compliment.

"This guy's a playmaker," said Browns coach Romeo Crennel, who helped build the defenses that allowed the New England Patriots to win three Super Bowls. "He runs all over the place, and he runs to the ball. He's got some size (6-foot-1 and 248 pounds), some speed, some production. I like all of those things."

As long as the Browns keep the 12th overall pick, though, they are likely to continue to admire Hawk in another team's uniform after the draft.

But that is the sort of enthusiasm he generates from most coaches and personnel evaluators around the NFL. Tennessee Titans general manager Floyd Reese went so far as to gush that if you were to compile a wish list of 10 qualities you would want in a linebacker, Hawk would have all 10.

A.J. Hawk led Ohio State in tackles for three straight seasons.
Here's a sampling: Speed, athleticism, instincts, hustle, sideline-to-sideline playmaking, aggressiveness at the point of attack, explosiveness, closing speed on blitzes, pass-coverage skills, and use of hands to separate from blockers. He is versatile enough to play outside in a 4-3 alignment (where most scouts believe he would be the most effective) or inside in a 3-4.

And, of course, there is that sterling attitude. When a reporter asked if he intended to work out at February's Scouting Combine at Indianapolis, Hawk seemed almost taken aback that the question would even be raised.

"Of course," he said. "I'm coming here to do everything. I'm going to compete and do every drill I can."

As usual, most of the other highly rated players chose to save their workouts for the Pro Days on their respective college campuses and/or individual sessions with NFL teams. Hawk not only worked out at the Combine, but he performed well enough to maintain his perch atop what looks to be the deepest position in the draft and one of the best linebacker crops the draft has ever seen. The group includes other potential first-rounders in Manny Lawson of North Carolina State (where he played defensive end), DeMeco Ryans of Alabama, Chad Greenway of Iowa, Ernie Sims of Florida State, Thomas Howard of Texas-El Paso, and Bobby Carpenter, Hawk's fellow outside linebacker at Ohio State.

Hawk and Carpenter join a long line of outstanding Buckeye linebackers. Hawk often is compared to Chris Spielman, who went on from Ohio State to have a long and successful career in the NFL. As a radio and television sports analyst in Columbus, Ohio, Spielman spends plenty of time around the OSU campus and visits frequently with Hawk.

"He has a lot of good advice," Hawk said. "He keeps you grounded and lets you know that regardless of what happens in Columbus, don't ever get too upset about what someone says to you or don't get too excited because it's so up and down.

"(He says), 'If you have a bad game and someone's cutting you down, don't get down on yourself. If you have a great game, don't listen to them. Don't let your head get big because of it.'

"He's done a great job of that."

Hawk has, too.

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Old 04-22-2006, 04:10 PM   #2
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RE: Great talent, attitude allow Hawk to soar

I'd love to have him, but unless we can get some more offensive line help before the draft, I think we should go with D-Brick. We have to protect our investments. But then again, the tackle position is rather deep this year so who knows.
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