So far, Joe Hawley’s main claim to fame in his NFL career came to pass while he was off the field. His four-game suspension for the use of performance-enhancing drugs—specifically, Adderall—is not impressive by any standard of the imagination.
Luckily for Hawley, he has other attributes that display higher merit and better judgment…on the field.
Hawley had a sturdy, if not stellar, college career. In 2006, he played eleven games at guard; for 2007, he started nine games at center. In 2008 he started seven games at center and five games at right guard. He didn’t particularly stand out in any one position, but his demonstrated versatility is a proven asset. Yet this adaptability was probably detrimental when it came to the 2010 NFL Draft; he was the Atlanta Falcons’ pick in the fourth round. Flexibility is good, but only to a point within the confines of the NFL combine…or so it would seem.
Hawley’s style has been likened to that of New England Patriots guard Logan Mankins. Is it only a coincidence that the current general manager for the Falcons and former scout for the Patriots Thomas Dimitroff passed over higher-ranked centers (including the likes of Matt Tennant) for Hawley?
Dimitroff likes to take chances, and drafting Hawley was no exception. So far, this gamble hasn’t paid off. That’s not to say it can’t or won’t pay off in the future. The talent is there, multifaceted and feasible. Hawley learned a hard lesson with his four-game suspension last year. This learned (and earned) knowledge will spur him to aspire to greater heights…the heights of an established starter.