In 2016, undrafted rookie cornerback Josh Hawkins was one of the surprises of training camp. Not only did he make more plays than any of the Green Bay Packers’ cornerbacks in the preseason games, but he also flashed the sort of speed that we figured only Sam Shields had.
Fast forward to 2017, and Hawkins is again fighting for a roster spot in what suddenly looks like a very deep cornerback group. It’s a group where 2016’s No. 1 guy, LaDarius Gunter, also seems to be suddenly fighting for a roster spot.
Probably not good news for Hawkins then?
We won’t be quick to jump to that conclusion. Ultimately, Hawkins will make claim to his lot in the preseason games again.
However, at least one guy — one guy who should know, considering he’s now the Packers’ No. 1 corner — says Hawkins is looking pretty good.
“Josh Hawkins, who’s quietly been making the most plays out of all of us, I think he’ll one day be a starter in this league,” veteran Davon House said.
While that might be an exaggeration — by all accounts, Quinten Rollins has been the man — it’s a clear sign that Hawkins is still in the mix.
First, that has to translate into a roster spot for Hawkins. Something that may be hard to come by if the Packers don’t keep six cornerbacks. Second, it needs to translate into regular season playing time. That’s something that didn’t happen last year.
After Hawkins got burned deep right before halftime against the Lions early in 2016, he went directly into Mike McCarthy’s doghouse. We basically never saw him again.
Even if Hawkins does make the roster and isn’t in the proverbial doghouse, playing time is likely going to be even scarcer in 2017. But that’s what happens when you’re a team’s No. 6 cornerback.
In that case — and you can ask Demetri Goodson — the place to make your mark is on special teams. And Hawkins has the speed to do just that.