The Pittsburgh Steelers selected LSU tackle Jerald Hawkins in the fourth round of the NFL Draft.
On Days 1 and 2 of the NFL Draft, the Steelers focused their attention on the defensive side of the ball. They upgraded their secondary with Miami’s Artie Burns and Maryland’s Sean Davis and added defensive tackle Javon Hargrave from South Carolina State. With their fourth round pick, the Steelers flipped the script and went with an offensive player, LSU tackle Jerald Hawkins.
Hawkins comes to the Steelers after leaving school following his redshirt junior season. He won the starting job at right tackle his redshirt freshman season in 2013 and played there for 2 seasons before switching over to left tackle, starting 36 games in his career for the Tigers. Hawkins is battle tested, facing some of the best defensive linemen in the country in the SEC and holding his own.
He does need some polish to his game, but Hawkins is a natural athlete with great feet and length. In his stance he is very balanced even though he is waist bender and not a knee bender, a terrible trait to have as an offensive lineman. Even with his weaknesses, Hawkins never gives up on a play and finishes to the whistle.
Pass protection may be his strong suit, Hawkins has struggled with run blocking over his career in Baton Rouge. He tends to deliver a good initial punch, but his hand placement is very poor and he will need to be coached up in terms of technique at the NFL level. Glad we have Mike Munchak, the best offensive line coach in the league.
Draft Grade: B
Given some time to develop and polish his game, Hawkins could one day be the starting left tackle for the Steelers down the road.