Don’t look down at your notebook during OTAs.
If you do, you’ll miss
If there’s any sort of consensus opinion coming out of Berea in June, it’s that the wide receiver is putting on a clinic each day during OTAs.
“Hawkins comes out here, is one of the hardest workers,” said coach Mike Pettine. “Doesn’t know any speed other than full speed. He’s a guy that is truly trying to get better.”
Besides work ethic and quickness, what is making Hawkins stand out? It’s his footwork.
Hawkins prances around the practice field as if he’s on stage in Broadway. Cornerbacks are constantly guessing wrong whether the 28-year-old receiver will either stop on a dime, or spin them around.
“That’s my whole game,” said Hawkins, bluntly about making the secondary overthink his routes.
Hawkins is technically the Browns’ slot receiver. But Kyle Shanahan’s offenses in the past have lined up receivers all across the field, a principal reason why Hawkins was so thrilled to sign with Cleveland.
“The way the offensive staff draws these plays up, I don’t want to say it takes pressure off the player, but, it’s the way an offense should be run,” Hawkins said. “They put guys in a position to do what’s best for the team. And that takes a lot of pressure of the players as opposed to some offensive coordinators that say, ‘Hey, make this play work.’”
“I can see why,” Gilbert quickly retorted. “He’s out there making plays every day. I’d rather guard [Josh] Gordon than him right now. Because he’s so little and quick.”
“I’m flattered,” said the 5-foot-7 Hawkins with a smile about Gilbert’s comment. “When you do come to a new team, you want to impress the players around you. Because those are the guys that see it first. …I’m learning. It’s the beginning stages. I still have a whole lot of work to do.”
Sure, Hawkins has benefitted with the Browns receivers being held back during OTAs –
He’s developing a noticeable chemistry with the quarterbacks, especially Brian Hoyer. He’s shown excellent hands. The way he looks so far, Hawkins is not just some sparkplug decoy to scare defenses. In this offense, Hawkins could be putting up consistent, game-changing numbers.