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Possible Patriot 2022 Undrafted Safety Is A Roster Long Shot

The Patriots signed Safety and undrafted free agent Brad Hawkins from Michigan. Before the draft, Hawkins may have been the eighth best Safety fit for the Patriots, in this writer’s opinion.

He signed with a garbage team, and after the group known for blowing a 28-three lead to the Patriots released him, Hawkins found his way to Foxborough. Now he has a long road ahead of him and a short time to make it.

From Wearing The Blue And Maze To Trying To Make The Patriots.

Hawkins was a four-star receiver entering college and converted to defensive back. He would go on to develop into a three-year starter for Michigan. Not an easy task for anyone to achieve.

The 31-game starter had two fumbles, one recovered, and 177 tackles for the Wolverines. He has experience as a kick returner but only averaged 13.83 yards in six tries. He stands six-foot-one-inch and weighs over 220 pounds.

He runs a 4.57 forty but only a 7.10 three-cone. He also boasts a 37-inch vertical. He knows how to get to the ball, but his speed and agility could be an issue.

He’s capable of playing deep or in the box. He shows good mental ability to read a defense and dissect plays. He has also demonstrated leadership abilities on the field.

He’s aggressive with “game speed,” and there are questions on if he’s athletic enough to be more than a special teams contributor. In addition, his play ethic has been called into question by a scout or two, as some have referred to him as “lazy.”

Hawkins can cover tight ends, but there were concerns if he could play man and zone well enough at the NFL level. A few mocks had the Patriots drafting him late as a developmental prospect.

Will The Patriots Prove Scouts Wrong Again?

Time and time again. Bill Belichick signs a UDFA that was supposed to be a nobody and ends up with a quality depth piece or legit starter. Here are some thoughts from scouts on the newest Patriots signee.

Charlie Parent wrote, “Hawkins lined up everywhere for Michigan. In 2020 when he played man most, he was put outside, in the slot, two-deep, and single-high safety. In 2021, he was used in similar spots, along with within the box a ton and on red-zone blitzes. While having experience is great for versatility, we have well stated by now that Hawkins won’t be playing all these spots with the limitations on his athleticism.”
Tony Pauline of PFN wrote, Hawkins “was effective defending the run while showing good awareness in coverage. While he has athletic limitations, Hawkins possesses enough ability to line up as a zone or strong safety.”

Brad Hawkins Has Patriots’ Favorite Ability.

It doesn’t look like he’ll be out much. So the team can get him on the field immediately. The problem is, it’s going to be hard to give him the “Foxboro flu.”

Brandon Brown said, “I think Hawkins’ greatest strength is his availability. I mean when you’re talking about a guy who has played that much football and never got benched for doing something wrong, never got benched for making bad plays, never took a day off when it came to practice and getting ready for games, that’s noteworthy.
He played in more games than anybody and always did the right thing. We’re talking about a physical guy, I mean he’s 6-1, 220 pounds, and can play in the box. He plays a physical brand of football and he was always there, always ready, always able to be counted on and that is so valuable in football.”

What Is Hawkins, And How Does He Fit With The Patriots?

Hawkins is that hybrid Safety in Coy Wire, Rayshawn Jenkins, and Kyle Duggar. The Patriots look like they’re in the process of converting or evolving to a hybrid defense three-down dime from the big nickel. And they’re stocking up on the versatility style safeties, which can create mismatches.

Hawkins is now added to a mix that includes Cody Davis, Kyle Dugger, Jalen Elliot, Devin McCourty, Jabrill Peppers, Adrian Phillips, Brendon Schooler, Joshuah Bledsoe, with JoeJaun Williams and Marcus Jones also able to play the position. It’s an uphill battle this late in the process but not out of reach.

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