He's not big and he doesn't have a major college pedigree, but Brent Hawkins could turn out to be the steal of the draft for the Jaguars. Pass-rushers are that important.
Hawkins, 6-2, 245, is a pass-rush specialist. For now, he does one thing; just that one thing. In time, he will learn to drop into coverage and do more than one thing, but the Jaguars will offer no complaints this year if Hawkins only sacks the quarterback.
"I know what they want me to be," he said.
He knew what that was on draft day, when the Jaguars invested a rather inexpensive fifth-round pick on a guy who produced 17 sacks at I-AA Illinois State last season. That's right, 17.
Could he have done the same playing against the big boys?
"I believe so," Hawkins said. "I proved a I-AA player can succeed at the I-A level; a sack, a forced fumble and MVP at the Hula Bowl."
Bill Teerlinck was Hawkins' coach at Illinois State. Teerlinck is the son of Colts defensive line coach John Teerlinck, whose prize pupils are Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, both of whom are undersized pass-rush specialists.
"He had me watching tape of Freeney and Mathis all the time," Hawkins said of his college coach.
Ted Monachino is the Jaguars' assistant defensive line coach and a pass-rush instructor who tutored Terrell Suggs at Arizona State. Monachino is grooming Hawkins' pass-rush skills.
"When he puts his hand down, he's pretty comfortable with it," Monachino said of Hawkins. "There are a lot of similarities (to Suggs). Terrell is a lot bigger but there are a lot of athletic similarities.
"Size isn't the key. He has to develop a pre-snap plan that matches the protector he's going to face," Monachino added of Hawkins.
In a one-on-one pass-rush drill this past Sunday evening, Hawkins lit up Khalif Barnes with a spin move and, by and large, had his way with the Jaguars' premier pass-blocker.
"He's fast off the edge. I think he's got special qualities as a pass-rusher," Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith said of Hawkins.