Along wih the second week of OTA’s, news week a little more real “news” came out of the South Side in a move that saw the Steelers sign Jerald Hawkins, the offensive tackle out of LSU who was their 4th round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Steelers Sign Fourth-Round Pick OT Jerald Hawkins from LSU
— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) June 2, 2016
- But honestly folks, rookie draft picks signing no longer count as “news” in today’s NFL.
However, with the ink drying on his rookie contract, Jerald Hawkins can now turn to a more pressing task at hand – breaking recent trends with Steelers 4th round draft picks and offensive tackles.
As the Colbert Record noted the day before the Steelers drafted Hawkins, Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin’s record with 4th round draft picks is outright horrible. Landry Jones is arguably the most accomplished player the duo has drafted in the round, with Cortez Allen flashing before fizzling out, and Martavis Bryant threatening to toke himself out of the league. Suffice to say, Jerald Hawkins is fighting some history.
- And then there is the Steelers recent record at offensive tackle.
Things quite simply haven’t gone according to plan as the table below indicates:
The Steelers drafted Marcus Gilbert in the 2nd round of the 2011 NFL Draft, and while there’s been some grousing outside of the organization, the Steelers haven’t looked back since turning over the right tackle position to him after Willie Colon was lost in 2011’s Opening Day Debacle at Baltimore.
- Outside of that, nothing else has gone according to script.
Tony Hills was drafted in the 4th round of the 2008 NFL Draft at spot 130, or 7 picks later than Jerald Hawkins, and the Steelers got all of four games out of them, and most of that was spot duty. Ouch! After drafting David DeCastro in 2012, the Steelers went back to offensive line and took Mike Adams. They thought so much of him, hoping he’d start at left tackle, that they moved Willie Colon to guard.
- Adams failed to win the left tackle spot, so it was Max Starks to the rescue one last time.
Adams played well enough at right tackle when Gilbert got injured in 2012, but his stint as starting left tackle in 2013 was an unmitigated disaster, with his chronic inability to protect Ben Roethlisberger’s right side led to some of the worst play of Roethlisberger’s career.
Of course he was succeeded by Kelvin Beachum, 2012’s 7th round pick, and then again by Alejandro Villanueva. The Steelers thought enough of undrafted free agent Villanueva, who didn’t even play tckle in college, and Hawkins potential, that they cut Mike Adams.
Jerald Hawkins to Write “His Own Story”
If you told any of this to Mike Tomlin, he’d likely scoff and retort, “I’m not concerned about anyone else, Jerald Hawkins is writing his own story.” And so he is.
Trends can be fun to write about, because they so often help depict larger truths. Until they don’t.
- Stephon Tuitt offers a perfect example.
Not too long after the Steelers drafted him, this site wrote a similar post about how Tuitt arrived in a fight against Steelers history with 2nd round defensive tackles AND players from Notre Dame. It says here that Brett Keisel was in NO way a liability during his final season with the Steelers in 2014. But it is also true that the Steelers defense played its best football during the final four games of 2014, after an injury had ended Kesiel’s career.
Starting this summer at St. Vincents in Latrobe, Jerald Hawkins will indeed get his chance to write his own story.