Was Center Joe Hawley a Good Pick in 4th Rd?

Many Panned the Pick

 

If fans lost their marbles when the Atlanta Falcons selected defensive tackle Corey Peters in the 3rd round, they may have launched their remotes towards their TVs when the Falcons selected UNLV Center Joe Hawley in the fourth round. It was pretty much common knowledge that the Falcons were going to address center at some point throughout the draft, and the round probably wasn’t that shocking, just who they took. The Falcons top brass worked out several centers with their private workouts including JD Walton, Matt Tennant, Ted Larsen, and Joe Hawley. Walton was selected in the 3rd round by the Denver Broncos and it was thought by many that the Birds were zeroed in on Tennant, who was Matt Ryan’s center his senior year at Boston College. Thomas Dimitroff not only passed over Tennant, but also voted no on several other centers that were reportedly ranked higher according to draft “experts” including Eric Olsen and Ted Larsen.

Rated Low

Even though draft ratings are scattered all over the map and they probably hold little value to teams, most sites had Hawley slotted to go in the later rounds, perhaps around the 6th or 7th round and has one of the lower overall draft value ratings. NFLDraftScout had Hawley as their 6th best center and DraftCountdown had him as their 5th best center. Most fans were a little upset at this pick because they thought that Hawley could have certainly been nabbed with one of their 5th or 6th round picks, and should have taken some of the bigger names left on the board. With such a deep draft, there were a ton of names left at that point including OLB AJ Edds, OLB Eric Norwood, TE Clay Harbour, CB Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, and DE Austen Lane to name just a few. Hawley received one of the lowest grade ratings with a 2.0 from NFL.com, when most of the players around him ranked anywhere between 5 and 7 grade ratings.

The talk of grades and draft ratings leads perfectly into the next point about the Falcons top brass, and many other teams for that matter, complete lack of regard for what the draft “experts” have to say. How many can’t miss prospects become exactly that only a few short years later. Anywhere from QB Jamarcus Russell to our very own DE Jamaal Anderson. The draft experts may get paid to evaluate players on the surface, but they have no bearing on how teams assess their players and particularly how certain athletes fit into schemes, which makes up so much of teams and their respective success.

Perfect Mold of a Falcons OL

Regardless of what the draft experts say, Thomas Dimitroff has and will always draft on what he and his scouts believe to be the best fit and potential for the long haul, not just a splash in the draft. If any player fits the mold of what the Falcons are looking for in an offensive lineman, Joe Hawley is that man. The UNLV center is very good in pass protection with a strong punch and picks up extra defenders very well. Most well known as a “mauler who can drive 3 techniques into the ground and possesses one of the nastiest streaks of any player in the draft” according to NFLDraftScout. A tough and mean football player with a non-stop motor. Perhaps the best reason that Dimitroff and Co. took Hawley comes once more from NFLDraftScout, “with a little coaching and improvement in his technique, he could have a long NFL career.”

Even though its obvious the reason the Falcons selected a center, Todd McClure is still on the top of his game at the young age of 33. It is true that McClure could retire at any time, but offensive lineman have shown they can play a good bit longer at a top level than some other positions (consistent All-Pro Center Kevin Mawae is 39 and still playing). McClure is one of the more underrated centers in the NFL and is by far and away the captain of the offensive line. McClure’s ranks according to ProFootballFocus.com:

Overall Center Rating

Todd McClure – 10th (10.3 score)

Top Rating – Nick Mangold (31.8) – By far and away the best rated center because the second rated center has a score of 18.5.

Pass Block Rating

Todd McClure – 7th (3.8)

Top Rating – Jeff Saturday (8.9)

Run Block Rating

Todd McClure – 9th (9.0)

Top Rating – Nick Mangold (29.3); Second – Andre Gurode (17.7)

Time for the Real Experts….You

 

-What’s your thoughts on taking Hawley in the 4th round?

-Was the 4th round a good place to take Hawley or could they have waited?

-Do you think that the UNLV center was a reach?

-How much longer might Todd McClure play?

 

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204 comments Add your comment

JJ

May 4th, 2010
9:33 pm

Nice Job D-led or is it D3, lol.

JJ

May 4th, 2010
9:33 pm

reference nativefalcon

JJ

May 4th, 2010
9:34 pm

SarahB, hope you feel better!

JJ

May 4th, 2010
9:37 pm

Like Hawley and McClure can play for several more yrs, rotate with the kid. MS loves to rotate players and McClure is one of the best.

Sarah B

May 4th, 2010
9:38 pm

Well I’ve stopped…. And only time will tell.

Sarah B

May 4th, 2010
9:39 pm

And I think the fever broke!!!

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dawson Devitt, Dawson Devitt. Dawson Devitt said: http://bit.ly/ajY8yg Was Center Joe Hawley a Good Pick for the #AtlantaFalcons in the 4th Round? The Bird Cage/AJC Fan Blog – #2010NFLDraft [...]

D3

May 4th, 2010
9:43 pm

JJ — Quick……..go see if you can find one error in the blog. Hurry, hurry. :grin:

Sarah B — The CEO’s birthday is this weekend (technically yesterday), but the weekend will be all about my beautiful Bride. Likely not going to mini-camp because of it, but I got something fun for the mini-camp coming Friday (Thurs night). Hopefully she gets feeling better herself.

Sarah B

May 4th, 2010
9:47 pm

A MRS. D3 should want to go. I know we live close, we could ride together.

JJ

May 4th, 2010
9:47 pm

Buddy, you know I was kidding about nativefalcon…

Sarah B

May 4th, 2010
9:48 pm

How can anyone – man or woman not love football????

JJ

May 4th, 2010
9:51 pm

I’m out, cia on flip.

D3

May 4th, 2010
10:16 pm

JJ — Oh yeah, I was playing along with you on that one. Lost in translation on that one. I was adding to your joke.

Sarah B — Yeah, she’s usually game, but not an ideal weekend on this one.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by D. Orlando Ledbetter, You Post Atlanta. You Post Atlanta said: Was Center Joe Hawley a Good Pick in 4th Rd? – The Bird Cage — Wed May 05 01:29:35 UTC 2010 Many Panned the P… http://ow.ly/17gNvN [...]

Sarah B

May 4th, 2010
11:10 pm

OMG I have serious heartburn… D3 get her on board!!!!

Sportaree

May 4th, 2010
11:36 pm

Sarah B
I love football as much as everyone else here, but I’m worried that after this season, will we have football next year?

Sarah B

May 5th, 2010
12:19 am

Sportree – I think the players are to greedy to let it happen.

Ed

May 5th, 2010
1:23 am

D3, Hawley’s defintely a reach as far as the fourth round. One thing about utilizing all the mock drafts is to get an idea as to where a player is slotted. No, it’s not perfect and there will be misses, but it is a good barometer. IMO, TD did reach, no matter how good the player turns out to be,if he could have waited just one round to pull the tab Also, I think he gets nervous during the draft and it is relatively easy for other GM’s to mislead him (in regards to whom they have targeted. Fortunately, he has proven to be a keen talent evaluator so his picks are building a solid foundation.

SeminoleWarrior

May 5th, 2010
8:32 am

Good morning Cage…

Hawley is an unknown; don’t know if I will call him a reach with all his achievements over the course of his college career. He seems to have all the tools that we need at the position.

To the right person, any pick can be a reach. It is a matter of how much confidence the team has in a player to come in and work hard, earn his job, and then continue to develop and contribute.

SeminoleWarrior

May 5th, 2010
8:37 am

D3, on behalf of the TeePee, pass on birthday wishes to the First Lady. And my best wishes for a absolutely stellar weekend!!

SeminoleWarrior

May 5th, 2010
8:42 am

In the end, this draft targeted one starter and was purposely used to establish critical depth at key posiitons on the team. Mission accomplished with the selection of accomplished players at each of those position EXCEPT wide receiver. But FA added a lot as well..

We will watch it all play out. I have full faith in the Process.

Troy Heinzman

May 5th, 2010
8:54 am

I was one of the ones that panned the pick, but not for Hawley himself, just because I thought we could have waited and still got him later. He definitely fits the mold of Falcons’ linemen but when we are grading the draft we need to look at where a player is taken vs. his perceived value. At the end of the day, we don’t know as much as NFL GMs do, but I enjoy pretending I do!

John Waynesworld

May 5th, 2010
8:59 am

Another good one, D3.

I am going back to my skewed stats speech. D3, your #1 all around center Mangold is superior in the rushing game but not in the passing game. Your #1 passing center Saturday is superior in the passing game but not in the rushing game. Mangold plays for the Jets. Saturday plays for the Colts. Huh. Maybe it is because the Jets had the #1 rushing offense and the Colts and Peyton Manning had the second best passing offense in the league. Please someone show me a highly rated rushing lineman on a team without good running backs or a highly rated passing lineman on a team without a good quarterback. The latter would probably be easier to find based solely on sacks allowed, but how can you place stats on an individual lineman based on yards rushed by the team with 4 other lineman also responsible for those stats? Impossible I say.

You are right, D3, the pundits in the media are just good guessers based on experience, informants and hunches. Additionally, when the draft is over, all these fortune tellers fade into the woodwork, especially if they are proved wrong. As a matter of fact they never admit their failures. They don’t have to be there at minicamp and preseason when the teams’ draft picks are out there for all to see, either succeeding or failing. TD and Coach Mike and Mr. Blank all have to be there and I’ll bet a dollar to a doughnut that there is a FANTASTIC reason TD passed on Tennant and Olsen and the rest for Joe Hawley. You nailed it best, D3, when you said the Falcons “should have taken some of the bigger names left on the board.” That’s the issue. Bigger names. Familiar names. Sexy picks.

Sexy picks sometimes have not so sexy results. Take JA98, a gigantic, impressive looking defensive end, when we could have had a not so sexy Patrick Willis at #8 (3 year pro bowler right out of the gate).

In this new era of the Atlanta Falcons, TD went for substance and style over names. TD saw something in Joe Hawley. There’s a reason he reached for him in that spot. Whatever it is, I’m all in with it.

SeminoleWarrior

May 5th, 2010
9:19 am

JWW, I am with you. The Process rolls on.

ATL Fan

May 5th, 2010
9:39 am

Picking Hawley in the 4th tells me that TD and Co. valued him higher than the draft experts and figured that other teams did too.

SeminoleWarrior

May 5th, 2010
9:52 am

TD is a very shrewed, calculating evaluator of talent. There is truly a method to his madness it appears. Roll with it bro…I’m sold!!

CBrass

May 5th, 2010
10:47 am

Just think we could have had this guys!!! Thanks McKay for Bust98!!!

http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=ap-49ers-willisextension

SeminoleWarrior

May 5th, 2010
10:48 am

CBrass, don’t remind me. I still cry when I think of it.

SeminoleWarrior

May 5th, 2010
10:49 am

But we have the Spoon Express….and the ride is going to be a great one!!

SeminoleWarrior

May 5th, 2010
10:54 am

It appears that TD locked in on Hawley some three weeks before the draft. We had him in for a private workout in early April.

http://www.nfldraftscout.com/ratings/dsprofile.php?pyid=65349&draftyear=2010&genpos=C

CBrass

May 5th, 2010
10:55 am

I’m just glad that we have a GM who do not get caught up in one year wonders and go after football players!!!

SeminoleWarrior

May 5th, 2010
10:59 am

Amen to that my friend!!

SeminoleWarrior

May 5th, 2010
11:01 am

D3

May 5th, 2010
11:23 am

Great Hump Day Cage! — The week is slowly but surely grinding through. It seems as though some weeks zoom, and well others, they creep ever so slowly.

Mini-Camp — Not going to be able to make this one, but I got something kind of neat to propose for the “Mini-Camp” post that will be up sometimes tomorrow evening.

Blechhhh — Not sure if ya’ll have heard, but Spoon is getting #56. Why not another number? Not that Brook-Douche should be retired or anything, but when I think of 56, I think of that guy. I was hoping for like 13 or something. Hell, just tell Jenkins to give up #12 if he drops more than 5 balls this year. Hah.

SeminoleWarrior

May 5th, 2010
11:27 am

D3, Spoon will add an element of style to the number.

John Waynesworld

May 5th, 2010
12:05 pm

You are right CBrass. Heck in the second round we could have traded down from #39 (Blalock) and #41 (Houston) to #44 and #46 and took Sidney Rice and Lamarr Woodley. What an all around horrible draft by McKay.

Agreed SW. Sacking the quarterback, dropping seamlessly into coverage, and tackling running backs BEFORE they make the first down will make us all forget about Brookingzuh very quickly.

#56 in Falcon’s history:

Joe Cerne . . . . . . . . . . . 1968
Dennis Havig . . . . . . . . . . 1972–75
Guy Roberts . . . . . . . . . . 1976
Ron McCartney . . . . . . . . . 1977–79
Al Richardson . . . . . . . . . 1980–85
Joe Costello . . . . . . . . . . 1986–88
Darion Conner . . . . . . . . . 1990–93
Chris Doleman . . . . . . . . . 1994–95
Keith Brooking . . . . . . . . . 1998–2007
Sean Weatherspoon. . . . . . . . 2010-

I prefer that #56 reminds me of Lawrence Taylor. That’s what I hope ‘Spoon resembles looking like for us in the future.

Speaking of Defense! The greatest of all time…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0a9ErSXS-s

D3

May 5th, 2010
12:16 pm

Hawley — I was one of those that about tossed my cookies when I saw we drafted Hawley in the 4th round, because there were so many players still left at that point that we could have grabbed, but after reviewing the draft as a whole and the needs we had at that point, I surely have warmed a lot to the pick. I actually like it a lot in fact. I mean, realistically, expectations should be heavily lowered after the second round. Some say third round since it was such a deep draft, but nabbing immediate starters after the second is a stretch. Even though, TD was able to nab some starters (Chris Owens, Thomas DeCoud) and huge impact players (Harry Douglas) in the third round.

I completely expect Hawley, Johnson, and Reynolds to starters for us in the near future……not allowing Clabo, Dahl, Blalock, and McClure to hold us hostage on retiring or asking for out of the world prices. I know it probably won’t happen, but I sill would like to keep both Clabo and Dahl. Just really depends on Reynolds to be honest. And we all know that Baker is still a major suspect as well.

Unca' Bob

May 5th, 2010
12:19 pm

JWW,

Thanks for a terrific video. I was in Atlanta that year and it was great sport. Too bad our O was just as bad as the D was good.

SeminoleWarrior

May 5th, 2010
12:26 pm

Reference second paragraph of D3’s 12:16 post……on target analysis my friend. I agree.

We are building a mult-faceted OL to improve/replace the run focused line we have in place right now. And it is being built with blue chip talent. Patriot Way baby…Patriot Way.

CBrass

May 5th, 2010
12:31 pm

JWW,

Thanks for the link!!!

SeminoleWarrior

May 5th, 2010
12:33 pm

JWW

Simply the best DAMNED defense that no one ever talks about except DIEHARD Falcon fans.

SeminoleWarrior

May 5th, 2010
12:37 pm

If Leeman Bennett had the type of owner support we have know, we would have won a title. Just my opinion.

ATLJBO

May 5th, 2010
12:37 pm

I wasnt surprised we went after Joe Hawley over Tennant… Tennant is more of a zone blocking center…. Joe Hawley is more of a mauler….. I was surprise we took him in the 4th (i thought he was a 5th round pick) and i was surprise that we took him over Ted Larsen (another mauler type) in the 4th round.

Thomas Dimitroff said he sees some Logan Mankins in Joe Hawley’s game…. Thats big…. A scout knows what he sees….

When i was putting my video together i had some highlights of Hawley blowing up some guys (opening running wholes) but i didnt have time to cute them and edit them….

I also like the fact that Hawley can play Center and Guard.

If you guys haven’t had a chance to check out my 2010 Atalanta Falcons draft class highlight video… Here you go

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yq8PTmDGwDc

melkycabrera

May 5th, 2010
12:39 pm

We’ll be drafting Hawleys replacement in 2 years.

SeminoleWarrior

May 5th, 2010
12:40 pm

ATLJBO….

TD found Mankins. This guy is a master of finding low key, low cost gems..

SeminoleWarrior

May 5th, 2010
12:41 pm

Hawley is a pure center where as Larsen was a convert from DT. Just food for thought.

SeminoleWarrior

May 5th, 2010
12:42 pm

ATLJBO,

Great piece on youtube….Outstanding work bro!!

Coop

May 5th, 2010
12:45 pm

D3 – Nice work. The question you pose is not only apt for Hawlry, it really is the question for the entire draft. Did TD draft the right positions in the correct round, and did he get the right player for the position? Other than S, I’m OK with the positions drafted, and other than swapping OLB and DT, I’m pretty OK with the rounds we drafted players. I thought we’d go OC in the 3rd, but the way the board shook out, waiting till the 4th was fine. Hell, could have waited till the 6th and got Tennant which I wouldn’t have thought. So 4th round for a OC is good in this draft. But is Hawley the right guy? Two points:

1. If he winds up beign better than the OC’s drafted after, then go to point two…

2. Could you have traded back, or made another need pick and waited? If the answer to that is no, then this was the right pick.

Time will answer both those points. But you can ask that about each pick.

Could we have traded back and gotten Spoon, Peters, Johnson, Hawley, Meier? If so, regardless of whether they turn out great, TD missed.

As far as talent evaluation, we’ll know in 2 – 3 years whether he really is a boy genious or a “reacher”. I pray he’s not the latter.

I do know that next year, I will mock the most obscure players I can think of to see if I have a better chance to win.

waynester

May 5th, 2010
12:50 pm

‘Afternoon everyone,
Like most of us, I used the rankings and mock drafts of the “experts” to pick the players I wanted, based on perceived team needs and others’ evaluations. Talk about an inexact science–there were TONS of guys left on the board when we chose Hawley. I really was surprised how early we took Hawley, despite knowing he was a finalist for the OC based on the private workout. I was looking at it from the perspective “what was wrong with player X that I liked”. TD/Smith look at it from the opposite point of view–”what’s RIGHT about Hawley that makes him fit in better” They’ve said from the beginning that they look at a player’s positive attributes first, then worry about repairing their shortcomings through coaching. The positives on Hawley far outweigh the negatives–same with all our other picks. One of the best immediate examples in the news is Dez Bryant. Lots of us wanted him at #19 and were furious that we passed on him. First thing that happens is a slew of bad press regarding his interviews. Next, he shows up at mini-camp way out of shape and ends up on the sideline puking his guts up while UDFA’s show him up on the field. Finally, his lack of conditioning leads to an injury which, although not serious, prevents him from participating further. Just because a guy is rated highly doesn’t mean he’s worth the baggage he brings with him into the lockerroom. Here’s hoping Dimitroff’s picks show up in shape and rarin’ to go….

SeminoleWarrior

May 5th, 2010
12:53 pm

Coop, I feel you. Put it like this. When dealing with TD and the draft, it is clear we need to payh a heck of a lot more attention West of the Mississippi.

Look at the MO. Quality players, hard workers, team leaders, no flash—just business, and hungry.

Patriot Way South…God, I love it!!