Just take a look at NFL rosters throughout the past few years and the likes of Brian Mitchell (Philadelphia Eagles), Trindon Holliday (Denver Broncos), Jacoby Jones (Baltimore Ravens), Damaris Johnson (Philadelphia Eagles), Michael Lewis (New Orleans Saints), Darius Reynaud (Tennessee Titans) and Joe McKnight (New York Jets) have all made huge impacts in the league.
LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu is also someone who brings great value to an NFL team not only because of his ballhawking skills at cornerback and in the nickel cover packages, but also as a punt return specialist. His LSU teammate halfback Michael Ford emerged as a very good kickoff return man for the Tigers in 2012 and that element will aid his draft stock also.
There is another potential impact all-purpose athlete in the upcoming 2013 NFL draft and it is former St. Augustine High School in New Orleans and Southern University wide receiver/return man Charles Hawkins.
Despite not getting a Combine invitation Hawkins has gotten the attention of a number of teams in the NFL due to his all-purpose skills.
The former walk-on to the Jaguars football program has quickly developed into one of the most coveted and highly scouted players as a late round pick for the April draft.
The 5-8, 175 pounder was clocked in the 40-yard dash in (4.28) last spring at the Southern Pro Day, but a hamstring injury derailed what looked to be a promising senior season for Hawkins.
Despite the injury Hawkins caught 31 passes for 467 yards, averaged 15.1 yards per catch and scored 7 touchdowns in 2012. The fleet-footed return man also brought back 12 kickoffs for 309 yards, averaged 25.8 yards per runback and scored 1 touchdown.
“I was disappointed I didn’t get to really help my team more,” Hawkins said. “Personally everyone wants to showcase their talents, but I just want to help my team win and it was frustrating to not be out on the field and at times I wasn’t 100%, but there is a reason for everything. I worked hard this off-season to get myself in the best shape possible, but injuries happen and I was glad to help the Jaguars late in the year.”
In the Bayou Classic showdown against Grambling Hawkins caught 6 passes for 99 yards and 3 scores.
Despite what would seem to be the obvious in that Hawkins is a deep stretch receiver, he also thinks his greatest attribute is catching the short pass and making something big happen after the catch.
“In college or the pros there is an opportunity at times to make something happen with the longer throw, but the percentages to complete that type of play is not real high. What I like to do and take pride in is running the shorter routes, beating my man with good route running skills and my separation ability, and then making a long play from a short pass. I am not afraid to go over the middle for the tough catch. Some guys like to stay on the boundary, but I love to catch the ball short and make something happen after the catch. That breaks down a defender worst than beating him deep with just speed. I was one of those guys that played football and my coaches and teachers kind of forced me to run track in high school and not the other way around.”
In leading to the April draft Hawkins is working out at Sonic Boom Training Facilities in Harahan with noted workout guru Wyatt Harris, who has trained NFL wide receivers Marques Colston, Rueben Randle, Jacoby Jones, Devery Henderson, Early Doucet, LaRon Byrd and LSU’s Odell Beckham.
“Charles has speed like very few people out there have and he is arguabley the fastest player in this draft class,” Harris said. “But it’s his work ethic and his ability to understand that you can’t just be fast and play in the NFL, but being football fast that counts. He has worked hard to be a better route runner and come out of those sharp cuts and breaks quicker and without losing any of that unique speed. He is talented and fast, but what is most important is that he is hungry and focused on being the best player he can be. Charles is just not a fast young man, but he is a fast football player at wide receiver and in the return game.”
WWL NFL and college analyst Mike Detillier is a nationally-known expert in every level of football. Click HERE for information on how to order his 2013 Draft Guide.