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The Draft Spies (Vol. XI): Javian Hawkins

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Speed and violence of action are all the rage in the modern NFL. Players who can facilitate this seem to hold inherent advantages and are increasingly hot commodities.  We are seeing increasing numbers of dynamic, all-purpose athletes that function as hyper-lethal and hyper-aggressive weapons. Javian Hawkins is the ideal “Speed Back”; someone who can effectively produce at Running Back in a specialty role while providing great value.

SPY 1: WHO is the prospect?

Javian Hawkins grew up in Titusville, Florida. He played Running Back and Cornerback at both Astronaut High School and Cocoa High School. (He transferred prior to his senior season.) His longstanding reputation as a speedster dates back to his high school days, where he reportedly ran a 4.36/4.37 40 yard dash. However, he was more than just wheels, racking up over 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns on the ground. According to 247 Sports, Hawkins entered the recruiting process as the 21st overall all-purpose back in the nation. The three-star recruit received offers from 19 schools, including Boston College, Coastal Carolina, Missouri, Syracuse, Temple, and UCF. However, he chose to attend the University of Louisville.

SPY 2: WHERE did he come from?

Hawkins saw his first meaningful action in 2019, his redshirt freshman year. He recorded 264 carries for 1,525 yards and nine rushing touchdowns. He broke the school record for single-season rushing yards by a Running Back and earned Second-Team All-ACC honors. The speedster followed that up with a decent 2020 campaign, tallying 133 carries for 822 yards and seven rushing touchdowns in eight games before opting out to prepare for the 2021 NFL draft.

SPY 3: WHAT are his attributes?

Hawkins has elite-level athleticism in a smaller-than-average frame. (Courtesy of Kent Lee Platte/@MathBomb)

Top Five Attributes (RANKED)

  1. Speed: According to NFLCombineResults.com, Hawkins had the fourth-best recorded 40-time in the 2021 RB draft class (tied with Pooka Williams of Kansas). That time trailed only Elijah Mitchell (Louisiana-Lafayette), Deon Jackson (Duke), and Travis Etienne (Clemson).
  2. Elusiveness: Somewhat related to his speed, Hawkins has the quickness to cut/juke defenders out of their shorts in open and even congested field.
  3. Vision/Patience: While he is quick, he is also patient enough to let blocks develop ahead of him.
  4. Open-Field Explosiveness: His speed and elusiveness culminate in elite explosive ability in the open field, leading to a high frequency of big plays.
  5. Big Play Pedigree: Specifically, Hawkins’ record-shattering 2019 campaign totaled 1,525 yards and eight 100-yard game performances. Including his career game against Boston College (25 carries, 172 yards, and a touchdown), for which he earned ACC Running Back of the Week honors.

You can see these traits in action in the following highlight video:

Limitations

The main limitation in Hawkins’ game is his size. He stands at 5’8” and a lean 183 lbs., which means he is liable to be brought down on initial contact. Though they would have to catch him first, which is easier said than done.

BF Player Comp: Matt Breida

SPY 4: WHEN should he be drafted?

Hawkins’s major appeal coming into the draft is his ability to be an effective supplemental contributor in a niche role. In this, he can be an effective RB in specialized roles, situations, and tactical shifts. Speed in the Bills RB room is a hotly contested point of discussion. If it is truly a concern for the coaching staff and front office, Hawkins can provide that in spades and do so effectively. Having an open-field runner that can rocket his way down the field will be a boon to a team that is constantly hunting for force multipliers to its already dynamic offense. 

Expectations are that Hawkins will most likely be available as a day three pick. Rounds 5 or 6 are most likely at present. Again, considering the Bills have met with Hawkins, this implies some measure of interest in the player exists and could factor into the Bills strategy on whether or not to draft Hawkins.

SPY 5: WHY Hawkins is a fit for Buffalo’s offense?

Previous discussions of the RB position for the Bills (as it pertains to the draft) have trended heavily on a couple of major aspects. One is “what does the RB does differently than our current ones?” Another is “where is this RB drafted?” When talk of RBs being drafted at pick 30 commences, much turmoil soon ensues. The point is, one would want a RB that is more a weapon as opposed to a pure runner of the football. This is where Hawkins may shine.

He can be a pick that provides excellent draft value and incredible big-play/“home run” potential. In a committee or specialty use role, Hawkins can threaten defenses in ways that the current RBs have not thus far. In the open field, 2nd level, and in gadget type playsets, Hawkins can gash a defense and has demonstrated this ability throughout his football career. Acquiring Hawkins would enhance Buffalo’s ability to threaten defenses in different ways and keep them on their heels during games.

DARKHORSE BONUS POINT: Prospect Fun Facts

  • Hawkins’ nickname is “Playstation,” in honor of his video game-like abilities on the field, which often left teammates and spectators in awe.
  • Hawkins’ alma mater, Cocoa High School, has been a relative NFL pipeline in recent years. Bucs CB Jamel Dean, Jaguars OT Jawaan Taylor, and Saints S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson all went there.

In closing, please follow The Buffalo Fanatics on all platforms, trust the process and go Bills.
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