Back in the 2006 NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers had a tough decision to make. They had to choose between Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk and Maryland tight end Vernon Davis.
For the record, I wanted the Packers to draft Davis. He seemed like a perfect target for Brett Favre and future (at the time) quarterback Aaron Rodgers. But Davis was more risky — Hawk was the safe pick and he landed in Green Bay after the team used the fifth overall selection to acquire him.
Hawk’s first season in the league was among his best. He had 82 tackles, 3.5 sacks, two interceptions and a fumble recovery. He also broke up seven passes and forced two fumbles.
However, it was apparent early on that Hawk’s athleticism was limited. He struggled in coverage and despite a lot of attempts, his blitzing and pass rush skills left much to be desired. In nine seasons with the Packers, Hawk had 19 sacks. He also had 628 solo tackles, nine interceptions, four forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries 33 passes defensed.
Hawk also started 136 games in Green Bay and played in 142. The former Ohio State product also played in 13 playoff games throughout his career and was starting inside linebacker during the Packers Super Bowl run back in 2010.
That season, one in which it was rumored he was to be traded, was possibly his best. After the early trade rumors, an injury to Nick Barnett thrust Hawk back into a full-time role. He then went on to notch 111 total tackles, intercept three passes, defense 10 passes and recover one fumble.
Hawk, who announced today he was retiring as a Packer had a solid, but not spectacular career. He certainly wasn’t worth the No. 5 overall pick, but it’s hard to call him a bust. He was an effective, above average player.
Hawk will never be remembered as a superstar. But he was a tough, physical football player and he is one that Green Bay fans should remember fondly, especially with the effort he put in to help the organization win a fourth Super Bowl championship.