Josh Hawkins may be exactly what the Green Bay Packers need to push their game to the next level. The free agent cornerback out of East Carolina has based his entire playstyle off of another rookie success, Sam Shields. Hawkins was inspired by the Sam Shields story and wants to be just like him. In a quote from Hawkins, he states “I wore the armbands, the tape, the white gloves just like him. Some of the guys, they called me ‘Little Sam Shields.’ I’m just trying to play like him. I try to mold my game after him.” Sam Shields would make a great role model for any aspiring cornerback. Having a recorded 245 tackles, 66 passes defended, and 18 interceptions in 80 regular season games, the man is a force to be reckoned with. It may very well be this admiration of Sam Shields that has pushed Josh Hawkins to be vigilant about improving his game in any way he can.
Accolades and History
Josh Hawkins played for the East Carolina Pirates, he stands 5-foot-10 and weighs in at 189 lbs. His defining feature is his long arms which he puts to good use when defending passes. His recorded time for his college pro day 40-yard dash was 4.39 and during his time with the Pirates, he was named the American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week multiple times. Hawkins is currently one of five undrafted players on the Green Bay Packers’ opening lineup and really showed he has something to prove in Last Saturday vs Washington. During the 37 defensive snaps he played, he stunned coaches with seven tackles (two on special teams) and three passes defended. This was Hawkins first NFL start due to the injuries of both Davon House and Damarious Randall. Two of those three defended passes prevented a Washington touchdown and paved the way for the Packers’ 21-17 victory. This performance garnered Hawkins the highest grade of all Packers’ cornerbacks that game.
NFL preseason Hurdles
Though Hawkins may be a strong athlete one thing he struggles with is consistency, a problem that resulted in him being benched during his 2016 rookie season. To combat this, he trained rigorously with former Falcons cornerback David Irons in Atlanta during the NFL preseason. Hawkins and Irons trained relentlessly with two-a-day practices to really hone Hawkins’ skills and Iron out the inconsistencies in his game. Hawkins emerged a much stronger player as a result of this training and though under the shadow of players like Damarious Randall, Quintin Rollins, and second round pick Kevin King, Hawkins is starting to make a name for himself. Head Coach Mike McCarthy had as much to say about Hawkins, “I think the fact that Josh was on our 53-man roster last year tells you how we felt about him. If you look at last year, he played very well on special teams. Maybe not as far as his game opportunities, but throughout the second half of the season our special teams coaches were very high on him, and fighting to get him up on a weekly basis.”
Hawkins has worked hard to overcome his consistency issues and now looks to be a driving force for Packers football. Just like his Idol, Sam Shields, before him Hawkins is breathing new life into the Packer’s defense. He may not be starting when his injured counterparts return but that does not dampen his determination to improve. With his speed, reach, and new found precision, this undrafted player from East Carolina could be the Green Bay Packers’ next success story.