In the 2006 NFL Draft, the Packers were coming of a 4-12 season and were looking to add a young, impact player to their roster. In picking AJ Hawk with the 5th pick, the Packers believed they had a three down linebacker who would change games and be their defensive leader going into the future.
Now in his 7th season, it would be fair to say that he hasn’t lived up to the status of a 5th overall pick. His lack of “impact” plays (INT, FF or Sack) and his troubles in coverage has led to him having a rather average looking career. But it’s his contributions beyond the stats that make him of value to the Packers Defense.
His work ethic is well documented, a trait that has marked his time in Green Bay and was apparent back at Ohio State. He complained about being locked out of the Green Bay weight room on weekends because the trainer insisted the team rest and recover. He spends most of his time studying film and working out because he says he “wasn’t born a genetic freak…and has to make himself that through training”
What that work ethic has lead to is a calm and collected demeanor on the field. Despite losing his play calling duties to DJ Smith this year, he still makes the adjustments and checks at the line of scrimmage. When the player who isn’t the main play caller is calling strengths and adjusting run fits, it shows how much the coaches trust his vision and preparedness. In this scheme, where the DBs can be making read adjustments entirely different from the front 7, keeping everything in line is no easy task.
AJ Hawk is an anchor. He is the player who you ask when you don’t know what to do. His poise and focus allow him to be that guy.