STRENGTHS - At 6000 and 194, Hawthorne has the long, linear fram that NFL teams are always looking for. Few tall cornerbacks possess the foot quickness, agility and playing speed that Hawthorne does. Blessed with quick feet and good agility, when he maintains good technique/footwork he has a quick and compact backpedal and can transition out of pedal to close quickly on passes in front of him. Naturally explosive, he flashes the closing burst to the receiver to get there in time to either make a play on the ball or to deliver a hard hit right as the ball arrives. He has the ball skills to break-up or intercept passes. Although his long stride hides his playing speed, he has consistently shown the speed to stay with fast receivers on deep routes. He flashes a willingness to come up and make strong, physical tackles in run support and on passes in front of him.
WEAKNESSES - Despite first round physical talent, Hawthorne does not produce at that level. His backpedal is not consistently tight / compact and he is slow to transition out of pedal when his technique is off. His awareness/instincts are a major question mark as he is often late reading the pass and does not have a good feel for where players are within his area in "zone" coverage. For a cornerback with his physical talent, he gets turned around and is late closing, which leads to him allowing too many catches. While he is a very willing hitter/tackler, he is not a sound tackler and tends to lunge at times, which leads to missed tackles at times.
SUMMARY - One of the most frustrating players I evalauted this year, Hawthorne's physical talent does not match his on-field production. A smooth and fluid athlete with natural explosiveness and top end speed, he has the physical package that few 6'0 cornerbacks have, but he must improve his technique if he is going to produce in the NFL. Additionally, having played both receiver and cornerback at times during his college career seems to have affected his feel/instincts for playing cornerback as he is often a beat late reacting to the route/pass. At the East West Shrine Game, Hawthorne flashed his talent, but too often was caught out of position and allowed catches. Overall, I am sure that Hawthorne will be drafted much higher than I have him rated because of his physical talent, but I doubt that he will ever become the consistently productive cornerback that he has the talent to be. He should be able to contribute as a "gunner" and coverage man on special teams as he was a productive doing so at Illinois.