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Falcons draft Jaylinn Hawkins

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From PFN: 134. Atlanta Falcons: Jaylinn Hawkins, S, California Pauline’s Ranking: #395 (S32) | Scouting Report PFN Consensus: N/A | RAS: N/A Pauline: I’ve always been a big fan of Jayli

Whichever NFL team announces Jaylinn Hawkins’ name in the NFL draft later this week, the California safety prospect promises it can just plug him right in. The Buena Park, California, native wasn

Newsflash folks, anything past the third round isn’t a “reach”.



Coverage Spacing - He's got a surprising amount of range considering he isn't overly bursty or dynamic. But he's sharp — shows good instincts and can shade and drop versus layered routes to understand where the QB wants to attack. Does well in deep half and underneath zones, specifically.

Acceleration - He's confident. He doesn't bring a lot of explosive range and if you isolate him in C1, you can work the sidelines against him. But he's quick to step down or flash from hash and he's got effective ability to step down from off coverage if you're working him in the intermediates.

Tackling - Needs to make sure he stays disciplined with his strikes — he can come in hot or high or tempt referees with his strike zone. But that said, he's an imposing hitter and brings a lot of wood, running his feet through contact and also showing confidence as a wrap up tackler to avoid giving up extra yardage.

Zone Coverage Skills - Wouldn't sign off on a lot of deep middle reps but he did serve that role in addition to half field and shallow zones. He's sharp and doesn't get baited into poor positioning as easily as many of his colleagues in the class. His lack of length and explosiveness ultimately cut down on his ball production.

Ball Skills - Got a bunch of his production in one shot against TCU (2018). His consistency squeezing the catch point or extending through the body is limited but he's most consistent to buzz underneath throws and take away the football from underneath while sinking. Good body control to adjust to the football as it arrives.

Competitive Toughness - He's physical! Like how he punches and collapses point men in swing routes or designed WR screens. Effort as a rally defender isn't elite but he's into the action or if the ball comes his way, you're going to get plus effort to discard blocks and square up tackles. Should be a four down option with special teams role in the NFL.

Flexibility - Surprising torso mobility to turn and adjust as a pass defender. He's done well to maximize his tackle radius as well, leaning into challenges as needed. He's not the most fluid isolated in space and transitional quickness in speed turns or click and close aren't prominent qualities — but also not liabilities.

Feet/COD - He's fairly controlled here. Not naturally explosive or dynamic to attack and trigger but he does build momentum quickly after the first few strides — and more importantly his shallow adjustments to ball carriers is adequate to stay balanced and not step down too flat.

Man Cover Skills - He'll do well to wall off the MOF when covering from the slot but his turn and run speed and upside is only moderate. He's physical at the LOS when you leave him down to press and that can allow him to disrupt timing but generally speaking I like him better in shallow zone and box defender than playing with his back to the ball.

Versatility - He was put in a lot of roles in a multiple Cal secondary. Think his football IQ will aid him in carving out a clear role as a depth player. Will be a viable special teams contributor and if you get the right compliment at FS you could see him wrestle his way into a starter role to stay in the intermediate areas of the field. 


Best Trait - Football IQ

Worst Trait - Tackling Discipline

Best Film - Washington (2019)

Worst Film - Utah (2019)

Red Flags - None

Player Summary - Jaylinn Hawkins is a sharp mid- to late-round prospect who should find success in a depth role at the pro level. There's an opportunity here for him to seize a role as a starter if he's able to work with a rangy free safety to help mask deep layering of coverage and protect the defense vertically. Hawkins is a stout tackler — but he needs to cut down on some of the simple mistakes regarding his tackling. He can be a bit too reckless and give away free yardage with unnecessary roughness. 

Updated: 03/22/2020




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1 minute ago, AxManBigFan said:

He is a well rounded safety who has played in the box but also out of the slot. Did a lot of different things for cal.....would have rather had Bryce hall.....but I read an article on this dude yesterday saying he could be the steal of the draft.

The article said 6 or 7th round or possibly not drafted.

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Whichever NFL team announces Jaylinn Hawkins’ name in the NFL draft later this week, the California safety prospect promises it can just plug him right in.

The Buena Park, California, native wasn’t even meant to play on the defensive side of the ball when he arrived at Cal in 2015; Hawkins was a four-star wide receiver recruit out of Buena Park High School. After he arrived on campus, however, he moved to the defensive side of the ball, where the Golden Bears were in greater need of help.

After suffering a season-ending shoulder injury, Hawkins took a redshirt year and was raring to go in 2016, working his way into the starting lineup toward the end of the season.

His versatility was on display most in Hawkins’ signature 2018 season, in which he lit up the stat sheet and opponents alike. In 13 games and 12 starts, Hawkins posted 32 tackles, including 3.5 for loss, three pass breakups and a Pac-12 leading six interceptions, good for third-most in the FBS. What’s more, he entered the Golden Bears’ record books; his six picks rank eighth all-time for the program.

In his senior season, though didn’t nab as many interceptions, Hawkins still led the Golden Bears with three picks and added two forced fumbles. He also added a career-high 53 tackles (4.5 for loss).


Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Though some scouting reports will caution that at the NFL level, Hawkins’ only viable use is as a box safety, he points to the fact that he lined up at corner before moving to safety at Cal as evidence that he’s a chess piece his future team can use all over the field. To boot, he also returned kicks, blocked on punt returns and served as the Mike, the quarterback of the defense.

“I’m a versatile DB. I’m a plug-in type of player,” Hawkins says by phone. “I’m a football player. I was productive at corner until I got hurt, moved to safety, played in the box, on the perimeter and also in the slot. I can do it all, whether a team wants to put me in the post or play me as a quarter safety or a half safety.”

The big question mark for scouts and teams when it comes to the Cal product will be his speed. Coming off a hamstring injury ahead of the NFL combine, Hawkins elected only to participate in the vertical (35.5 inches) and broad (117 inches) jumps and some defensive drills. He says he has two takeaways from his showing.

“I obviously feel what I showcased at the combine as far as movement, footwork, athletic skills, I think I had the best feet and breaks. My transitions were nice and smooth, and I showed speed as well,” Hawkins says. “I didn’t get to showcase the 40, but I have high production and my film speaks for itself.

Of course, Hawkins was robbed of his chance to run the 40 at Cal’s since-canceled pro day, which had been scheduled for March 20.

But Hawkins is staying positive even as the novel coronavirus wreaks unprecedented havoc on his and his fellow draft classmates’ pre-draft preparation. “At this point,” he says, “I have to let it go due to the circumstances.”


Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Hawkins also address another note scouts might have made in their notebooks early in his Golden Bears career: the three targeting penalites he took. Noting that he didn’t have any in his senior season, Hawkins says he has learned to balance his hard-hitting instincts with fundamentals.

“I play like an old-school safety sometimes and wanna take somebody’s head off, but you gotta play smart and you gotta protect yourself,” is Hawkins’ honest assessment. “Injuries can happen from going high or aiming high; you wanna lead with the shoulder. I’ve been doing that this season, and you can see I had no targeting calls.”

Like any defensive back with a nose for the ball, Hawkins has to weigh making a play with the discipline to fulfill his assignment—or set up the other half of Cal’s ferocious safety duo, Ashtyn Davis, make his own play. Again, Hawkins urges scouts and NFL teams to go back to his tape and see that he’s rarely caught out of position and lauds his above-average eyes and instincts.

“My assignment in playing football,” Hawkins says. He insists that it’s a defensive back’s football IQ that allows him to make those plays. While “you might get a gimme here and there out of luck,” he continues, “if you want to make those plays where you rob someone, that’s based off IQ and skill set.

Knowing your assignment is ultimately what allows you to play fast, Hawkins says. “That’s the only way you can really make those plays and feel confident, because you know what you’re doing from film study. Late nights being up studying my playbook pays off,” he adds. “I love studying the game; combine that with skill and these things are gonna happen.”

It’s that play-making instinct and versatility Hawkins is hoping catches the eye of an NFL general manager on Friday or Saturday. He’ll be watching from Buena Park, where he’s been training, with his family. Both Mom and Dad were athletes in their own right; Mom, Angie, ran track and Dad, Jermaine, played football.


Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Then there’s Hawkins’ uncle, Jeremiah, who’s a wide receiver at Cal.

That’s right—is, not was. Jeremiah is Jermaine’s much younger brother, and he and Jaylinn were teammates the past two years. Or, more accurately, Jaylinn was lining up across from his uncle the past two years, glaring him down the whole time.

Hawkins called playing with his uncle “one of the greatest experiences I really could have, looking back at it.” It was “something somebody could dream of,” he says. “It was fun going against a player of his caliber every day in practice. Matched up against him in coverage, there would be days where he gets me and I’m like, ‘****, what going on?’ And there are days where I get him.”

“He’s a big trash talker,” Hawkins adds, laughing. “I’m a trash-talker, too…but I’m older.”

Mom and Dad are also entrepreneurs, managing a dental office and owning a barbershop, respectively. They also passed that trait on to their son.

In a course at Cal, where Hawkins majored in American studies with a focus in sports management, he and some of his classmates started a project that launched into a full-blown tech start-up. The product, for which they have developed two prototypes, is a wearable device that tracks athletes’ speed, endurance and velocity.

While many of their plans for the company’s future have been put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the team won a pitch against some other sports tech start-ups. What makes his product different from others, Hawkins says, is that it runs on a simpler database coaches can understand. For existing sports training wearables, the data can be incredibly complex, requiring a technician to relay. “We’re cutting out the middle man and making our product cheaper so we can make it more affordable to FCS or high schools or Division II programs, because everybody doesn’t have these types of devices,” he says. 

It’s clear that the versatility with which he plays is applicable to the rest of Hawkins’ life, too. He’s spoken with a lot of NFL teams, and he’s feeling confident that someone will see him as the perfect fit for their program.

“Any team gets me is getting a player that’s gonna make an instant impact on the field,” he says, “but also in the locker room.”



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