You should not be mad at Javian Hawkins for his decision

Javian Hawkins #10 of the Louisville Cardinals (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
Javian Hawkins #10 of the Louisville Cardinals (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

Louisville star running back Javian Hawkins made a decision for his future none of us should dispute.

On Monday morning amid swirling rumors, Louisville star running back Javian Hawkins made the difficult decision to opt out of the remainder of the 2020 season to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft.

Hawkins missed the most recent game on Saturday against Virginia and was listed as “unavailable” along with Tutu Atwell and others. While Atwell was seen on the sideline with teammates during the game, Hawkins was nowhere to be found.

Javian finishes his career at Louisville with 2,355 yards rushing on 399 carries and and 17 total touchdowns. That’s 5.9 yards per carry. Have a career, young man. Hawkins only played in 22 career games at the University of Louisville.

Javian Hawkins is making the best decision for his NFL future.

This decision makes a lot of sense for Hawkins. While he really was only able to gain two years of experience for the Cardinals, the NFL will be waiting for him.

He may not be a first or second round pick in this year’s draft, but there is a reason that running backs are so willing to make decisions to go to the draft early despite not being a top-60 or even a top-100 pick.

I would think right now that Hawkins will run a very fast 40-yard dash time at the NFL Scouting Combine. He has shown his gamebreaking speed more times than once for Louisville over the course of his two years of production.

The NFL will not wait on you and running backs can actually help their draft stock by not having a ton of “tread on the tires.” Meaning, scouting staffs do not necessarily want a running back who carried the ball 1,000 times in college.

The running back position is one of the most unforgiving positions in football. A running back with bad knees, constant injury history, or a lot of “tread” will not be valued nearly as highly as a healthy player out of college. Thankfully, to our knowledge, Hawkins has never suffered a significant injury while at Louisville.

There seems to be a timer on running backs in the NFL as the timeframe to earn good money for running backs gets smaller and smaller every year. Hawkins will be hoping to be great on his rookie contract to earn himself the ever-so elusive big second contract for running backs.

He was available for every game he has ever been able to play in prior to last week’s game against Virginia. That could have been due to his decision to opt out, injury, or a Covid reason. Regardless, Hawkins has remained very healthy over his career which is a good sign for his future in the NFL.

With the decision to opt out now, Hawkins will avoid any type of injury while going down as one of Louisville’s best running backs ever. He finishes his career ninth in career rushing at Louisville and would have had a chance to break Lamar Jackson’s record had he stayed the rest of this year and next year with the Cardinals.

Hawkins will now likely get his body into the shape he wants to be in for the NFL Scouting Combine in March. It’s hard to predict as of right now where he will be taken. But, my best guess is that he will be taken early on in Day three (the round four territory) of the draft.

Hawkins is 5’9″ which already puts him at a disadvantage. NFL scouts are going to want to see him catch the ball with his small frame. He only hauled in 21 passes in his career. He will have to prove he can carry the ball between the tackles in the NFL to some extent or else he will be very limited to certain schemes at the next level. Louisville primarily ran outside zone plays for him in his career.

Hawkins has done plenty to be drafted in the third or fourth round. In that territory, running backs tend to be healthy contributors to their teams as rookies. Let’s hope that is the case for Hawkins who has a great deal of talent for the position. If he were about three inches taller, we would likely be talking about him as one of the top three or four backs in this class.

Let’s agree to wish Javian all of the best in his endeavors to achieve his dream of the NFL. You can never bash a guy like him for that. It was a great ride for “Playstation” in the ‘Ville.