Cincinnati Bengals’ Rookies: The Tanner Hawkinson Experiment
In an offense heavy Cincinnati Bengals‘ 2013 NFL Draft, the Bengals made what I believed at the time to be a somewhat questionable choice in the fifth round even though it seems to be working out well for them so far. With their fifth round pick, the Bengals decided to select offensive guard Tanner Hawkinson from the University of Kansas, a selection that at the time did not make a whole lot of sense as the Bengals were expected to take Reid Fragel here (who they later got in round 7.) One of Kansas’ top players and their offensive captain in his senior year, Hawkinson moved from tight end into the tackle position as they were in dire need of offensive line help and he made an immediate impact.
Although there is a lot of competition to get some playing time on this extremely talented offensive line, Hawkinson seems to have a lot going for him. Throughout the Bengals OTAs, he has proven to the coaches just how versatile player he is as a player, lining up in most positions. And with injuries to some of their more prominent linemen like Andrew Whitworth and Clint Boling, Hawkinson has been getting a large amount of reps and is showing line coach Paul Alexander and assistant line coach Kyle Caskey what kind of player he is. His quick feet and hands as well as his ability to read plays on the line were what drew the Bengals to Hawkinson in the first place, so even though he had a pretty poor showing at the NFL Combine ( 5.07 40-yard dash and a 28 inch vertical leap) he was still drafted a lot higher than people expected.
With Hawkinson proving his mettle across Bengals training sessions, he is now expected to compete for the backup tackle spot behind Andre Smith and Whitworth against fellow rookie Reid Fragel and Anthony Collins.
Simon Greene – Cincinnati Bengals Writer. Follow Simon on Twitter @simongreene88