Analysis: The new Green Bay 3-4 D should help A.J. Hawk.
Ex Buckeye A.J. Hawk moves inside in the new 3-4 system being installed in GB. The move should emphasize his best traits and free him from some of the areas in which he struggled last year.
By Bill Smith
Last season Hawk struggled with chest and groin injuries most of the year. The groin problem robbed him of some of his speed. After getting 119 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 06 and 105 tackles in 07 he ended up with only 86 tackles in 08. He is healthy now and no longer has primary coverage responsibilities of an outside backer.
Moving inside will free him up to read run and attack faster as well as the freedom to blitz more often. His instincts for timing a blitz were underutilized in the 4-3. He should be able to make more plays and generate more game changing plays inside.
His running mate will be Nick Barnett who is trying to come back from a season ending torn ACL injury in week 9 last year and has yet to practice much this year. Often it takes 12 months to fully recover from that surgery.
The one potential problem to Hawk remaining inside is pro bowl DE Aaron Kampman's move to OB. Kampman has been totally silent on how the move has gone in his eyes. He has never played OB at the NFL level. While the transition for a college DE to OB is hard, the change is even harder for an NFL DE. If that move should fail, chances are that Hawk would be the second choice to move back to OB. Brady Poppinga, a former starter at OB, would be the first choice.
AJ has played well in previous years and fell off last season. He needs to pick up his production to fulfill the all pro potential everyone felt he had when he was drafted. He has the ability. If he can stay healthy and stay inside, he should be a pro bowler soon.
That's what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for http://NFLDraftDog.com and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on http://www.eBooks-Library/Contemporary/Author.cfm?AuthorID=1003 and edits http://fryingpanpolitics.blog.com.