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2015 NFL DRAFT
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A.J. Hawk

Height: 6-1 | Weight: 248 | College: Ohio State
 
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Overview

Regarded by many as the best defensive player in college football, the two-time All-American was a model of consistency throughout his Buckeyes career. He led the team in tackles in each of his three seasons as a starter, rightfully taking his place alongside other OSU standout All-American linebackers ? Ike Kelley (All-American in 1964-65), Randy Gradisher (1972-73), Tom Cousineau (1977-78), Pepper Johnson (1985), Chris Spielman (1987 Lombardi Award), Steve Tovar (1991-92), Andy Katzenmoyer (1997 Butkus Award) and Na'il Diggs (1999).

Hawk missed much of his senior year because of injury, but still finished the campaign with 82 tackles at Centerville High School. He was rated the 30th-best middle linebacker in the prep ranks by Rivals.com and finished his career with 585 tackles (142 as a freshman, 192 as a sophomore and 169 as a junior). He also averaged over 40 yards as a punter his senior year. Hawk played point guard on the basketball team as a freshman and sophomore.

Hawk lined up behind Cie Grant on OSU's depth chart at weak-side linebacker in 2002. The true freshman recorded 26 tackles (13 solos) with an assisted sack, 3.5 stops for losses and two interceptions, returning one for a score. The OSU scholar-athlete moved into the starting lineup as a sophomore. He led the Buckeyes with 106 tackles (52 solos) and had four sacks with thirteen stops behind the line of scrimmage. He also intercepted two passes and batted away five others.

Hawk was a consensus All-American selection and team defensive MVP in 2004. He became just the fifth Buckeye to register 20 or more tackles in a game (vs. Wisconsin) as he registered a career-high 141 tackles 962 solos), the most hits by an OSU player in a season since Chris Spielman posted 156 in 1986. He also made eight stops for losses while causing and recovering a fumble. He again had two interceptions and deflected five passes in twelve games.

Hawk again garnered All-American first-team honors in 2005. He added All-Big Ten Conference first-team accolades and was named the league's Defensive Player of the Year by the media. He captured the Lombardi Trophy and was chosen team MVP. Hawk led OSU with 121 tackles (69 solos) and 16.5 stops for losses. He tied for the team lead with 9.5 sacks, intercepted a pass and deflected three others. He caused two fumbles, recovered another and blocked a punt that he returned for a touchdown.

In 51 games at Ohio State, Hawk started 38 times. He was the first OSU defender since Steve Tovar (1990-92) to lead the team in tackles three-straight seasons, as his 394 tackles (196 solos) fell just shy of him becoming the fifth player in school history to record 400 tackles in a career. He had 15.5 sacks for minus 114 yards and 41 stops for losses of 164 yards (sixth-best career total in OSU annals). He caused three fumbles, recovered two others and blocked a punt for an 8-yard score. He also had seven interceptions for 123 yards in returns and a touchdown while also deflecting thirteen passes.

Analysis

Positives: Has a thick upper body with broad shoulders, tight waist, good bubble and excellent timed speed for his position … Has loose hips and above average balance, keeping his feet on the move … Shows natural knee bend and has a sudden burst coming off the edge to defeat the lethargic offensive tackle (see 2005 Texas game vs. Jonathan Scott) … Understanding blocking schemes and is quick to locate the ball … Very capable of taking his impressive weight room totals and translating it into his play on the field … Can shed blocks consistently and has the upper body power to create a pile … Tough inside force vs. the run who moves well through traffic to locate the ball … Plays at a low pad level and uses his hands effectively to reroute the tight end … Has fluid and explosive range outside the box, using his hands to sift through traffic and generates the burst needed to play on the edge … Has excellent speed to close on the ball, demonstrating the balance and body control, along with quick feet to move down the line … Big hitter who will strike with force and has the strength to explode behind his tackles … Has the athletic agility, loose hips, valid speed and a strong desire to take on receivers in man coverage … Plays with a quick, controlled backpedal, showing the looseness in his hips to open and play the ball …

Gets very good depth in his pass drops and does a fine job of reading the quarterback and reacting to the ball, using his leaping ability and timing to break up the pass … Does a good job of reaching and plucking the ball away from his frame … Moves forward with quickness and good urgency on the blitz and has above average flexibility to counter blocks and close on the passer.

Negatives: Generally alert player, but can get a little reckless in his play and over-pursue, especially on run fakes and play action … Very combative with his hands, but does not have that strong lower body power needed to hold ground at the point of attack vs. larger blockers … Attacks with good aggression, but a lack of ideal size will see him get bounced out of the rush lanes when trying to fill working in-line … Needs to play with a wider base to prevent offensive tackles from washing him out along the edge.

Hawk is a punishing open field tackler with valid speed and explosion for his position. He is a bit on the short side, but compensates with excellent acceleration and outstanding read-and-react ability. He has the strength to explode into ball carriers and takes good angles in pursuit to string plays out. He has above average upper body power, but could use more lower body strength, as he plays with a narrow base and can be washed out by the larger offensive tackles if they lock on to him coming off the edge.

Hawk plays at a high intensity level, showing good urgency closing on the play and pressuring the pocket. He developed more effective swim and rip moves to get an edge on the offensive tackle and the result was 9.5 sacks in 2005. He plays with true aggression and while he sometimes gets reckless in his play, he will hit with authority. His range and lateral agility is the best I've seen in a linebacker outside of Brian Urlacher and much like the Bears standout, he has the natural knee bend to deliver punishing shots when tackling.

Hawk has the range to work down the line and generates a very strong hand punch to push the pocket. He is effective at jamming and rerouting tight ends and runners coming out of the backfield and has enough valid speed to stay on the hip of receivers past the intermediate area.

Hawk is an outstanding blitzer who has the natural feet and hip explosion to constantly disrupt the backfield. He is so instinctive that he has a knack for getting into the pocket almost at will. He closes with good urgency and does a very good job of breaking down and wrap tackling when working in space. He is better on the move than when asked to take on blockers working in-line, as he does not have the size or wide base to maintain his position at the point of attack, especially vs. double teams.

Hawk has nice pass rush moves and charges aggressively coming off the edge. He also shows valid hand extension to reach and pluck the ball at its high point. Much like David Pollack (Bengals), he simply has a natural feel and flow for the ball. He is an excellent sideline-to-sideline player who needs to be accounted for whenever on the field. With improved lower body strength and a better base, he will be as close to a complete line-backer as one can find.

Career Notes

Ranks fifth on the school's career-record list with 394 tackles, topped by Marcus Marek (572, 1979-82), Tom Cousineau (569, 1975-78), Chris Spielman (546, 1984-87) and Steve Tovar (408, 1989-92) … His 141 tackles in 2004 rank 13th on OSU's season-record list and were the most by a Buckeye since Chris Spielman totaled 156 in 1987 … Joined Steve Tovar (1990-92) and Marcus Marek (1980-82) as the only players to lead the team in tackles three consecutive seasons … His 41 stops behind the line of scrimmage rank sixth in school history behind Mike Vrabel (66, 1993-96), Matt Finkes (59, 1993-96), Jason Simmons (56.5, 1990-93), Andy Katzenmoyer (50, 1996-98) and Jerome Foster (43, 1979-82) … Became only the ninth player in school history to record 20 tackles in a game (20 vs. Wisconsin in 2004) and was the first since Chris Spielman totaled 22 vs. Michigan in 1986 … Had at least ten tackles in eighteen games.

2005 Season

Unanimous All-American and All-Big Ten Conference first-team choice … Recipient of the Lombardi Trophy and named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year by the league's media …

Team co-captain and defensive MVP … Also was a finalist for the Butkus and Bednarik awards as well as the Lott Trophy … Started every game at weak-side outside linebacker, leading the team for the third consecutive season with 121 tackles (69 solos) … Led the squad with 16.5 stops for losses of 85 yards, the eighth-best season total in school history … Also tied for the team lead with 9.5 sacks for minus 72 yards, the sixth-best season total in OSU annals … Caused two fumbles and recovered another … Returned a blocked punt 8 yards for a touchdown and had a 24-yard interception return … Added three pass deflections … Guided a unit that led the nation in rushing defense (73.42 ypg) and ranked fifth in total defense (281.73 ypg) and scoring defense (15.25 ppg) … Led the team in tackles in ten games and had at least ten tackles in six contests.

2005 Game Analysis

Miami (Oh.) … Opened the season with ten tackles (5 solos) and a pass deflection … Also sacked QB Josh Betts for a 9-yard loss on a third-and-14 play with 2:39 left in the first half.

Texas … Wreaked havoc in the Longhorns' backfield, totaling twelve tackles (7 solos) with a pair of sacks for minus 10 yards, three stops for losses of 12 yards, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and an interception … Picked off a third-and-5 pass thrown by QB Vince Young for a 24-yard return, setting up a Josh Huston 36-yard field goal with 4:33 left in the first half … On Texas' next drive, he tackled Young on a 1-yard run, as defensive end Jay Richardson stripped the ball from Young and Hawk recovered it at the Texas 30 … Forced Texas to settle for a 37-yard field goal with 0:02 left in the second quarter, as Hawk sacked Young for an 8-yard loss … Sacked Young for a 2-yard loss in the fourth quarter, causing a fumble, but Young recovered the ball at the Texas 37.

San Diego State … Posted eight tackles (5 solos), stopping Jeff Webb for a 2-yard loss on a third-and-5 screen pass from QB Kevin O'Connell, forcing the Aztecs to punt in the second quarter.

Iowa … Generated ten tackles (3 solos) and assisted defensive end Mike Kudla in sacking QB Drew Tate for a 5-yard loss on a third-and-16 play in the second quarter.

Penn State … Credited with nine tackles (5 solos) and 2.5 stops for minus 4 yards … Took down QB Michael Robinson for a 1-yard loss on a first quarter bootleg and tackled tailback Tony Hunt for a 2-yard loss late in the third quarter.

Michigan State … Made 19 tackles (10 solos) and deflected a pass.

Indiana … Added seven hits (3 solos) and sacked QB Blake Powers for a 6-yard loss on a third-and-11 play late in the third quarter … Earlier in the first quarter, he tackled tailback Yamar Washington for no gain on a third-and-1 run.

Minnesota … Followed with a nine-tackle (8 solos) effort.

Illinois … Posted ten tackles (6 solos) with two sacks for minus 22 yards and a pass break-up … Sacked QB Tim Brasic for a 13-yard loss early in the first quarter and later in that quarter, he again sacked Brasic for minus 9 yards on a third-and-2 play, forcing the Illini to punt.

Northwestern … Caused a fumble while delivering eight tackles (3 solos) and a 7-yard sack … Recovered a punt that was blocked by defensive end Quinn Pitcock and returned the ball 8 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter … Stripped the ball from tailback Tyrell Sutton on a 5-yard run early in the third quarter and cornerback Ashton Youboty recovered it at the Northwestern 18, setting up a 33-yard field goal by OSU's Josh Huston … Sacked QB C.J. Bacher for a 7-yard loss on a third-and-15 play at the start of the fourth quarter.

Michigan … Came up with seven tackles (5 solos), including one that stopped Mike Hart for a 4-yard loss after the tailback caught a third-and-16 screen pass from QB Chad Henne, forcing the Wolverines to punt.

Notre Dame (Fiesta Bowl) … Closed out his career in typical explosive fashion, making twelve tackles (9 solos) with two sacks for minus 16 yards and 3.5 stops for losses of 17 yards … Killed a late first quarter drive when Hawk sacked QB Brady Quinn for an 8-yard loss on a fourth-and-2 play … Forced the Irish to punt again in the third quarter after sacking Quinn for an 8-yard loss on a third-and-9 play … Tackled Maurice Stovall for a 1-yard loss on a screen pass from Quinn at the start of the fourth quarter.

2004 Season

First-team All-American choice by The NFL Draft Report, Football Writers Association, The Sporting News, Walter Camp and Associated Press … All-Big Ten Conference first-team pick and team Defensive MVP … Ranked fifth in the nation with an average of 11.75 tackles per game … Led the squad with a career-high 141 tackles (62 solos), the most hits by a Buckeye in a season since Chris Spielman's 156 in 1986 … Had a 3-yard sack and eight stops for losses of 14 yards … Returned a fumble recovery 5 yards and caused one fumble … Deflected five passes and intercepted two others … Had at least ten tackles in eight contests.

2004 Game Analysis

Cincinnati … Opened the season by assisting on a stop behind the line of scrimmage and also had nine hits.

Marshall … Followed with another assisted stop for a loss and twelve tackles (6 solos).

North Carolina State and Indiana … Totaled nine stops in each contest.

Northwestern … Assisted in taking down tailback Noah Herron behind the line of scrimmage and came up with 14 tackles (4 solos).

Wisconsin … Registered a career-high 20 tackles (8 solos), including one for a 3-yard loss and also caused a fumble … Became only the ninth player in school history to record 20 tackles in a game and was the first since Chris Spielman totaled 22 vs. Michigan in 1986.

Iowa … Recovered a fumble, advancing the ball 5 yards as he made two stops behind the line of scrimmage, including a 3-yard sack and delivered fifteen tackles (8 solos).

Penn State … Credited with a 13-tackle (4 solos) performance.

Michigan State … Added ten hits (3 solos) and 1.5 stops for minus 5 yards.

Michigan … Produced eleven tackles (4 solos).

Oklahoma State (Alamo Bowl) … Finished the year with five hits (4 solos).

2003 Season

All-Big Ten Conference first-team selection during his first year as a starter … Earned OSU Scholar-Athlete honors … Started every game at weak-side outside linebacker … Led the team with 106 tackles (52 solos) in thirteen contests … Had four sacks for minus 34 yards and thirteen stops for losses of 49 yards … Deflected five passes and intercepted two others for 55 yards in returns … Had at least ten tackles in four contests.

2003 Game Analysis

Washington, Penn State and Michigan … Made seven tackles in each game.

San Diego State … Had another seven hits, two sacks for minus 18 yards and three stops for losses of 21 yards.

North Carolina State … Added two stops for losses, twelve tackles (6 solos) and a 55-yard interception return.

Bowling Green … Intercepted a pass and totaled eight tackles (7 solos).

Northwestern … Credited with thirteen tackles (3 solos) and two stops behind the line of scrimmage.

Wisconsin … Assisted in a stop for a 2-yard loss and posted eleven tackles.

Iowa … Had an 8-yard sack and seven stops.

Indiana … Registered five solo tackles and two stops behind the line of scrimmage, including an 8-yard sack.

Michigan … Stopped tailback Chris Perry for a 4-yard loss and delivered eight hits (3 solos).

Kansas State (Fiesta Bowl) … Named Defensive MVP after coming up with ten tackles (6 solos).

2002 Season

Played in every game behind Cie Grant at weak-side linebacker, earning his only start vs. Pernn State … Finished with 26 tackles (13 solos), an assisted sack and 3.5 stops for losses of 16 yards … Intercepted two passes for 44 yards in returns and a touchdown.

2002 Game Analysis

Kent State … Made five tackles and returned his first career interception 34 yards for a touchdown.

Wisconsin … Added another five tackles and assisted in sacking QB Jim Sorgi for a 5-yard loss.

Penn State … Totaled five tackles (4 solos), including one for a 5-yard loss and intercepted a Zack Mills pass for a 10-yard return.

Injury Report

No injuries at Ohio State, but missed most of his 2001 high school season with a knee injury.

Agility Tests

Campus: 4.53 in the 40-yard dash … 395-pound bench press … 670-pound squat … 390-pound power clean … 37-inch vertical jump … 32-inch arm length … 9 -inch hands … Right-handed … 21/39 Wonderlic score.

High School

Attended Centerville (Oh.) High School, playing football for head coach Ron Vilery …

Missed much of his senior year because of injury, but still finished the campaign with 82 tackles … Rated the 30th-best middle linebacker in the prep ranks by Rivals.com … Finished his career with 585 tackles (142 as a freshman, 192 as a sophomore and 169 as a junior) … Also averaged over 40 yards as a punter his senior year … Played point guard on the basketball team as a freshman and sophomore.

Personal

Criminology major … Practices yoga, which he lists as one of the biggest risks he has taken … Older brother, Ryan, was the starting quarterback at Ohio University (2001-04) … Son of Judy and Keith Hawk … Born 1/06/84 … Resides in Centerville, Ohio.

 
 

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