Two wildly different paths. Two wildly different positions. Two wildly different schools.
But now, Jerald Hawkins and Demarcus Ayers share a commonality. They’re a paid of rookies trying to make their mark in the league. So they’re sticking together.
Jacob Klinger over at Penn Live has a nice feature piece that largely circles around Hawkins, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 4th round pick, but makes mention of one nugget of information about the two.
Klinger writes Ayers gives Hawkins a sneak peek at the installation sheet the night before, a day earlier than what the offensive linemen usually get.
“Offensive linemen don’t get the script of plays until the day of each session. Receivers do, though, and Ayers shows his copy to Hawkins each night, allowing the offensive tackle to focus his playbook study on what he’ll have to do on a given tomorrow.”
Perhaps it’s Ayers paying it forward after getting a helping hand from Antonio Brown during OTAs. Brown quickly invited Ayers to his house for extra practice, following a long trend by the team’s star receiver to connect with his young teammates.
Speaking to reporters after one practice two weeks ago, Ayers had nothing but praise for AB.
“He’s a very special guy. Very humble. He just loves guys who like to work. He has a positive vibe when he steps in the meeting rooms with us and out here in OTAs. We love him. I love him. We love to be around him every single day.”
Hawkins path, on its surface, does seem a little more secure than Ayers. Hawkins has the track on being the 4th tackle and his competition generally light for a team that is likely to carry nine of them. And though Doran Grant was initially cut last season, and we all know about Fred Gibson, being a 4th round pick gives Hawkins high odds of sticking with the team.
That’s not exactly the case for Ayers, a 7th rounder, in direct competition with Eli Rogers, Shakim Phillips, and several other intriguing WR options (Jeremy Fowler just gave praise to Levi Norwood today). He’ll fight to prove himself as a punt returner, and maybe kicks too, though we’ve shown in the past why the team’s kick returner doesn’t matter as much as it might on first glance.