Name: Brad Hawkins
Weight: 218 lbs.
High school: Suffield (CT) Suffield Academy
Jersey number: #20
Last year: I ranked Hawkins #33 and said he would be a backup safety (LINK). He started ten games and made 53 tackles with 1 pass breakup.
TTB Rating: 78
I typically have an annual “Why did PFF grade that guy so high?” situation, and the 2019 version of that guy was Brad Hawkins. He was First Team All-Big Ten to Pro Football Focus (as the “flex” defender) despite not being on the coaches’ all-conference team and only being named honorable mention by the media. He managed to get his hands on the ball just 1 time, which came in the season opener against Middle Tennessee. After three years in the program, he has just 2 career pass breakups. He is a solid tackler coming up from the third level, but is he much more than that?
Maybe. I sure hope so. Because he’s the only returning starter in the secondary. Michigan lost safety Josh Metellus and cornerback Lavert Hill to graduation/the NFL, and cornerback Ambry Thomas opted out of the 2020 season. Budding star Dax Hill also returns at safety, but Hawkins has to be a steadying force on the back end. Everyone is unproven and almost totally inexperienced behind the starters.
Hawkins has been prone to some coverage busts, and he’s a little grabby for my liking. I think he can be taken advantage of in coverage if opposing offensive lines can hold up long enough to give quarterbacks a chance to throw. But Michigan returns a couple of the top defensive ends in the conference and has a blitz-happy defensive coordinator. Hopefully Hawkins can improve his coverage a little bit while continuing to offer solid run support.
Prediction: Starting strong safety
Hit the jump for some of his 2019 highlights.
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