Hawk Eyes Draft

Donald Hawkins hasn't ever been afraid to tell it like it is. So when asked about the No. 1 takeaway from his Texas career, Hawkins didn't opt for some fluffy moment like running onto the field for Senior Day, or beating this opponent or that one.

"Not being able to win a championship, that's what stands out," Hawkins said, flatly.

Certainly, nobody blames Hawkins for that fact. The 6-foot-5, 310-pound offensive tackle started 24 games at left tackle over his two-year Texas career, including the last 18 games straight. And he did well enough that not only did he earn second-team All-Big 12 honors from the AP and league coaches as a senior, but he helped to change Texas coach Mack Brown's long-held belief that junior college players weren't wise takes at Texas.

In fact, Brown stated on multiple occasions that the way Hawkins performed, not just on the field, but in the classroom (where Hawkins was a member of the Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll) led to the Longhorns taking on more junior college players in the next couple classes.

"That was the greatest feeling to be able to hear that," Hawkins said. "I think I opened up a doorway a little bit. In junior college, a lot of kids didn't get that kind of opportunity, like I did, to step on the Texas grounds. So that's a good feeling."

Now, Hawkins, along with offensive guard Trey Hopkins, is trying to do something else for the Longhorns: break the streak of drafts without a Texas offensive lineman selected. And if the level of interest Hawkins has received is any indication, he'll be a pretty wanted man in the later rounds.

"It's been overwhelming," Hawkins said. "Talking to all the different teams, sometimes you have like six teams calling a day. Every time you think you have a good vibe about the teams that like you the most, teams that haven't talked to you yet start calling you."

Hawkins said he's talked to 25 of the 32 NFL teams, and noted that "people like my versatility." Had things worked out differently with Desmond Harrison a year ago, Hawkins could have spent last season at guard. And that's where he thinks he'll probably start off his NFL career, not a bad spot for a player with Hawkins's short-area power and mobility.

"I think I would transition to guard in the NFL, at least to start out," Hawkins said. "At some point, I could make my way back out to tackle, once they see what I can do. When you're drafted, you become theirs and they can really see you in person and see your skill set. Once they see how good my feet are, and how quick I am in pass set, it could be 'let's see if he can play tackle at the NFL level.'

"People aren't sure if you can play tackle in the NFL until they actually see you play it," Hawkins said. "That's the key thing right now. You see a lot of guys get drafted who were tackles in college, but who move inside to guard in the league. Then, some of those guys eventually move back out to tackle."

And that's something that could add value to Hawkins, as opposed to other linemen. Few guard prospects can say they've played the all-important left tackle spot, and played it as well, as Hawkins did at a major program.

"I've heard a lot of sixth and seventh round, but it could be something where a team pulls the plug and says they want to take this guy earlier," Hawkins said. "I would say, maybe a week or so ago, I started getting more and more phone calls, including from teams I've never talked to."

Hawkins said one of the reasons he picked Texas in the first place was the chance to get exposure and increase his chances of getting drafted. And that means that he still views his Texas experience as a bit of unfinished business.

"My work here won't be done until I get drafted," Hawkins said. "I put stuff on film … talent won't be the reason I won't get drafted. It's just which team goes out on a limb and takes the chance to draft me."

If Hawkins does get drafted, what will his reaction be?

"I don't know what my reaction will be," Hawkins said. "Probably the first thing I'll do is cry. It's always been a dream of mine to get drafted, since I was seven years old. So for it to really happen. I'm going to be really emotional."

While Hawkins took a different route to the NFL than a lot of prospects who were top recruits out of high school, he said that didn't have to be a stumbling block.

"I feel like you have to take the time out and put in the work," Hawkins said. "Your average person just sees you play on Saturday … they don't see what you do before the season to build your strength, build your conditioning and all that.

"That's one of the biggest reasons why I think I can be successful in the NFL," Hawkins said. "Not everybody's going to get what they need to be a first rounder. Some won't get the kind of coaching. You can't control that. But you have to be willing to put the work in. That's something you can control."


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