The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Illinois cornerback Terry Hawthorne in the fifth-round of the 2013 NFL draft and below is my breakdown and grade of the pick.
Measurables: Combine Invite: Yes, Height: 5116, Weight: 195, 40 Yrd Dash: 4.31, 20 Yrd Dash: 2.46, 10 Yrd Dash: 1.52, 225 Lb. Bench Reps: 13, Vertical Jump: 35 1/2, Broad Jump: 09\’08″, 20 Yrd Shuttle: 4.24, 3-Cone Drill: 6.88
Breakdown: The first thing that jumps out to me about Hawthorne is his build and size. He his not long like Cortez Allen, but a little meatier like Ike Taylor. He measures in at just a hair under six foot, has an adequate arm length and wingspan, and he moves very athletically. It should be noted that he is a former wide receiver and he moved to cornerback his freshman season after breaking his hand.
Hawthorne played on both sides of the defense while at Illinois and really gets up on his toes during his back pedal after taking smaller read steps. That action looks fluid. As far as press man coverage goes, this is the best part of his coverage game. He uses the sideline effectively as an extra defender and keeps good inside position on the hip of outside receivers. He has small hands, but his time playing receiver shows as he is a ball hawk and good at high-pointing the football while it\’s in the air.
As far as his off coverage goes, Hawthorne allows too much cushion at times. He doesn\’t break towards the football lightning quick as he looks like he tries to process before moving. Don\’t get me wrong, he has quickness, he\’s just delayed with his reactions. Getting better at route recognition (looks like he guesses at times) and studying tape more should help him start to recognize and react faster. It\’s almost like he is playing corner coming off of the street. He does it well, but he can do it better.
One thing I noticed is that Hawthorne is good at keeping the play in front of him and he doesn\’t allow many yards after the catch on completed passes thrown in his direction. He also can play in cover three, but seems much more comfortable in cover two.
As far as run support goes, Hawthorne recognizes it well and is a willing tackler. He needs to lower his strike zone, however, as he likes to come in high and that has drawn him some penalties. Overall, I would call him an above average tackler for a cornerback and he is always around the pile.
As far as taking on blocks, Hawthorne does a great job getting his arms extended and he doesn\’t allow himself to get junctioned up very often. He gets off and gets after the ball carrier. With that being said, if a lineman gets out on him, he can get ridden out of the play and I saw his happen in the game against Penn State. He moves through trash very well, protects his legs and you very rarely see him off of his feet.
As a blitzer, Hawthorne is quick off of the edge. He didn\’t have any pressures in the games that I watched, and according to his stats last season, he didn\’t have any all season. He did, however, have one sack last season and that came in the game that I watched against Ohio State
Grade & Summation: As I mentioned earlier, Hawthorne looks like he shows up for games as if he was called off of the street to play. He also had durability issues early on in his career, but played in 24 games over the course of the last two seasons. He is very talented and makes plays (6 interceptions, 22 pass breakups in college), but is very inconsistent and uneven in his play. He even looks to be out of position at times. I didn\’t watch any of his games when he was a junior, but supposedly his play fell off during his senior season. Why this happened, I haven\’t a clue. Hawthorne appears to have the skill set to compete as a starting corner in the NFL and he should make a great student for defensive backs coach Carnell Lake. He should be great on special teams, as he fast on a straight line, physical and willing to tackle. Hawthorne was considered to be one of the top cornerbacks in the nation after his junior season so getting him in the fifth round, in my opinion, was a steal. You can\’t help but to like his upside, so I give this pick a B plus with ease. He won\’t start right away, but he could by 2014 or 2015 at the very latest. I will be surprised if he washes out.