The Pittsburgh Steelers offseason player development watch-list is currently abundant as is usually the case every year and while most of the fan’s focus will obviously be on the team’s eight draft picks this summer for obvious reasons, the progress of one of last year’s draft picks deserves close monitoring as well.
Second-year tackle Jerald Hawkins, who was selected last year by the Steelers in the fourth-round of the 2016 NFL Draft out of LSU, had his rookie season wiped out by a preseason shoulder injury. While Hawkins did appear to play well in the Steelers 2016 preseason opener against the Detroit Lions, it’s important to note that the 46 snaps he played in that game is all we have to go on at this point.
Between the team’s Tuesday mandatory minicamp practices, Hawkins said the joint in the shoulder he injured last year feels stronger than it was before, according to Jacob Klinger of PennLive.com and that’s certainly great news.
Steelers OT Jerald Hawkins, who sat out last year with a shoulder injury, says the joint feels stronger than it was before.
— Jacob Klinger (@Jacob_Klinger_) June 13, 2017
Hawkins, as we posted a few weeks ago, reportedly spent some of his offseason training with and learning from two former and well-respected NFL offensive linemen, Kevin Mawae and Todd McClure, who both played their college football at LSU many moons ago.
The Steelers are likely hoping that Hawkins can be the team’s swing tackle this year behind starters Alejandro Villanueva and Marcus Gilbert. Last year that job belonged to Chris Hubbard, who wound up starting three games on the right side due to Gilbert being sidelined with an ankle injury.
Hawkins played in and started 37 games during his career at LSU. According to his college bio, 25 of those starts came at right tackle with 12 others at left tackle and nearly all of those came during his junior season, which was his last at LSU due to him opting to leave school early for the NFL.