Javian Hawkins signed a 3-year, $2.4M deal with the Atlanta Falcons on May 3, 2021, as an undrafted free agent. The Louisville running back won accolades during his 2019 campaign with the Cardinals, including setting a school RB record of 1,525 rushing yards, as well as being named second-team All-ACC. He was continuing to make strides in 2020 before opting out after 7 games.
Since Ito Smith was released, Hawkins has the speed and potential to fill that third-down role. With Mike Davis being the “workhorse” this year, and Cordarelle Patterson/Quadree Ollison sprinkled in when needed, I doubt Hawkins sees the field much this year. As of right now, he is not listed on the Falcons’ depth chart.
|5’8″||183 lbs||29 1/2″||7 7/8″|
At Louisville, Hawkins was known for being explosive. He broke out on three separate occasions in 2020 for “runs of 70, 75 and 90 yards in 2020.” (NFL.com) His light and small frame allow Hawkins to be elusive, breaking tackles on the run. He would break free and outrun the defense in a long-distance sprint to the endzone a couple of times during his Louisville career.
Watching his film, you’ll notice his excellent field awareness when running up the gut. NFL.com says he is “Patient in allowing blockers to find their work.” Hawkins is not afraid to slow down and wait for the right hole to emerge.
Adaptability is another big strength for Hawkins. In the video above, you see an instance where Hawkins escapes pass rush from the right by pivoting to swing left.
Overall, Hawkins has a high football IQ. He knows the game; He can be patient and adapt when needed. That’s really all you can ask for in a small-bodied 3rd & short back.
The glaring weakness for Hawkins is his size. Undersized at 5’8″, 183 lbs, Hawkins is not built to be a traditional workhorse running back. He will definitely have to put on some weight this summer to make the depth chart.
In addition to his small frame, Javian Hawkins is “Unable to drive through contact and fall forward often as an inside runner.” (NFL.com) This presents a big issue when trying to gain yardage up the middle on third down, but is a skill that he can further develop in offseason training camp.
Overall, I see Javian Hawkins as a UDFA steal. He likely went undrafted because he opted out halfway through his senior campaign. The biggest hole in his game is the ability to fall forward when running up the middle, but that can be taught and developed over time. I predict Hawkins to be the third-down back for the Atlanta Falcons in a year or two if he develops his game and puts on weight.