Colts Draft Target: DE Brent Hawkins

Over the past few weeks, Illinois State defensive end has been shooting up draft boards and was in high demand for visits, including one with the Colts. Find out more in this exclusive feature and interview with the dominating pass-rusher.

ColtPower confirmed this week that another player that visited the Colts this month was Illinois State defensive end Brent Hawkins. And his story has one of the more intriguing sub-plots out of all the pre-draft visits we've reported this offseason.

The 6-foot-2, 244-pound defensive lineman is already familiar with how Colts defensive line coach John Teerlinck likes his players to attack their responsibilities at their respective positions, creating havoc in the opponent's backfield. And he already does it very well. That's because one of his college coaches was Teerlinck's son, Bill, an assistant coach with Illinois State.

Hawkins made his presence known last year and in a big way. He's shooting up draft boards after a two-week whirlwind tour of pre-draft visits that included seven teams --  Kansas City, Atlanta, Green Bay, Dallas, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, and Pittsburgh. He also worked out for Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith. Jacksonville came to Hawkins for a second look last Sunday. And the Giants, Vikings, and Cardinals have all been showing interest as well. Hawkins is getting serious consideration as both a defensive end and as a linebacker.

"Brent went out there and won the Gateway Conference Defensive Player of the Year. He just dominated at the level," his agent Brian Levy told us. "He went out to the Hula Bowl and won Defensive MVP. He was a very disruptive force on the field. 

"He's a physical specimen, a total athlete. From where he's coming from, at that level, his pass-rushing skills are further developed than some of these D-1 guys who are rated higher by these so-called services at this point."

Hawkins has been overlooked a bit because he started out at Purdue, transferred out to play basketball, but then returned to football the following year with Illinois State. He has just 19 game appearances and 16 starts under his belt, but his results have been amazing. In 2005, Hawkins led the NCAA Division I-AA in tackles for loss (26.5) and forced fumbles (7). He finished second in the division in sacks with 17, which established single-season records for Illinois State and the Gateway Conference.

"He's going to be a shock on draft day," Levy said. "I know he won't make it out of round four, but I'd really be surprised if he didn't go to sleep Saturday without a hat on."

ColtPower talked to Brent Hawkins late this week and asked him a few questions....

Question:  You've had quite a whirlwind of a couple of weeks, haven't you?

Brent Hawkins:  Yeah, it's been crazy. I've probably been on fourteen different airplanes in two weeks. I've held up pretty good, but you get tired because every time you go on a visit you have to get up early for the physical. And then the jet lag kind of gets you.

Q:  During your visits, what are teams saying that they like about you?

BH:  They like the fact that I can rush the passer so well. The 3-4 teams would like to use me as an outside linebacker, some even think I could play inside if I got my weight up a bit. (Bears head coach) Lovie Smith said that he liked that I played with a high motor. I'm always intense and act like a wild man out on the field while making plays. 

Q:  Were there any highlight moments during your visits where you felt you really clicked with a particular team?

BH:  I felt like I clicked with Kansas City really well. I really liked the coaches and they really seemed to like me. They had me sit in a room and they put up film of me and pretty much let me critique myself. They would ask me what I was supposed to do. The meeting was supposed to be 10-15 minutes and I think mine lasted 45. One of the scouts came out after the meeting and told me that was a great meeting. He told me "You're so far ahead of anyone else we've brought in at pass rushing that it's ridiculous."

Q: What are you going to be focusing on during your first year in the NFL?

BH:  I plan on coming in like most rookies and playing special teams, trying to make a name for myself. But I want to be able to lineup right away and make plays, make an impact.

Q: What do you enjoy doing on special teams?

BH:  I enjoy kickoffs, because kickoffs are like an obstacle course. There are so many guys in front of you, and you have just one goal -- to tackle one guy. And there's ten people out there blocking for him. So I like kickoffs the best, but I like personal protector on punts as well.

Q:  Tell us about your visit to Indianapolis. After you went for your physical and headed to the team's facility, what happened?

BH:  I went in and met with the strength and conditioning coach. He tested my flexibility...Then I went in and saw my buddy, Gilbert Gardner from Purdue, who I hadn't seen for a couple of years. I got to talk to him to see how the experience of being a Colt would be. He loves it, he says it's great. Then I went and talked to coach John Teerlinck. We sat down and just kind of caught up because he's actually a pretty good friend of mine, I speak to him at times. And then he walked me back to talk with Coach Dungy, and that was neat. A lot of people don't get to do that, meet those kinds of people.

Q: What do you think John Teerlinck likes about you so much?

BH:  I think he knows that if I come there, it'll be easy to coach me. Everything he teaches his guys, I do it already because his son teaches me. He told me he thinks I'm one of the best D-end's in the draft as far as technique goes.

Q:  What did Coach Dungy have to say to you?

BH:  He was in a draft meeting, so it was hard to have enough time to sit down and find out how he felt about me. But he definitely knew who I was when I walked through the door and he seemed excited to see me. So that made me feel really good.

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