Photo of Terry Hawthorne
Grade
69.0 ?
  • 4.44 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 13 REPS
    Top Performer
  • 35.5 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 116.0 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 6'0" Height
  • 31 1/4" Arm Length
  • 195LBS. Weight
  • 8 7/8" Hands

Overview

Illinois’ talented defense has received well-deserved praise over the past couple of seasons, with defensive end Whitney Mercilus landing in the first round of the 2012 draft (after leading the nation in sacks) and multiple 2013 draft prospects littering the team’s front seven. But the surprising selection of safety Tavon Wilson in the second round by the Patriots and the obvious talents of Hawthorne hinted that more Illini could be next. Despite a very talented group, Hawthorne and the rest of the defense played well below average and finished the season on a nine game losing streak.



Hawthorne was on nearly everyone’s All-American list as a high school after earning Illinois all-state and St. Louis all-metro honors at East St. Louis (28 touchdowns on offense, four more on interception returns at cornerback). He played every game as a true freshman, starting the final five and scoring a 44-yard touchdown against Minnesota on his sole interception of the year. Before his sophomore year, however, Hawthorne fractured his right foot in practice. He missed the first four games of the season, playing in eight of the last nine and starting the Texas Bowl win over Baylor (led team with nine tackles). He managed to stay healthy in 2011, breaking out in a honorable-mention All-Big Ten campaign and tying for the conference lead with 11 passes defended (three interceptions, eight pass break-ups). He was the team’s Defensive Player of the Game in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl 20-14 win over UCLA after taking an interception back 39 yards for a touchdown. The injury bug caught Hawthorne again while playing Wisconsin and was taken to the hospital by an ambulance after a head injury that was later determined to be a concussion. He finished with 43 total tackles, four going for loss including one sack. He added six pass breakups and one interception while only missing one start.

Analysis

Strengths

Able to match up against opponents’ top receivers and support the run because of his physicality. Possesses the height, vertical, and tenacity to be factor as a press corner and on jump balls down the sideline. Quick to react on short routes, has the short-area footwork to break on poor throws to make the interception. Uses strong upper body to wrap up larger wideouts immediately after the catch and to throw down big backs in the open field. Brings some pop to the party, creates turnovers with his impact and willingness to rip at the ball during the tackle. Also a solid cut tackler, throws his shoulder into the thigh of ballcarriers to stop their momentum. Reliable on containment responsibilities outside against the run and on misdirection, will rip off blocks with strong hands. Willing to meet backs head-on in the hole and gives chase to plays down the line when no receiver is on his side of the field.

Weaknesses

Flashes some ability to backpedal quickly, but is often asked to open his hips off the line and is inconsistent transitioning forward to stay with out routes. Lunges at ballcarriers and ducks his head coming in for tackles at times. Takes risks and lacks great ball security when fielding punts, runs with strength but lacks great elusiveness. Body-catches interceptions, will need to prove he can extend away from his frame to complete more difficult plays.

NFL Comparison

Aaron Ross

Bottom Line

Hawthorne is a physical defender with the size to start outside against larger NFL receivers, hands and read-and-react ability to make plays in coverage, and aggressive nature to hold up his end of the bargain in run support. Illinois had plenty of draftable defensive talent in 2012, but the unit as a whole was putrid. Hawthorne's extreme injury in the middle of October may have played a part in it, but the senior was not the same player in 2012 as he was in 2011.
C
Grade Title
9.00-10 Once-in-lifetime player
8.00-8.99 Perennial All-Pro
7.50-7.99 Future All-Pro
7.00-7.49 Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.50-6.99 Chance to become Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.00-6.49 Should become instant starter
5.50-5.99 Chance to become NFL starter
5.20-5.49 NFL backup or special teams potential
5.01-5.19 Better-than-average chance to make NFL roster
5.00 50-50 Chance to make NFL roster
4.75-4.99 Should be in an NFL training camp
4.50-4.74 Chance to be in an NFL training camp
No Grade Likely needs time in developmental league.
NFL News
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