May 29, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals guard Tanner Hawkinson during organized team activities at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
#72 Tanner Hawkinson, Offensive Lineman
Weight: 300 lbs
Hometown: McPherson, KS
NFL Experience: Rookie
Fifth-round pick Tanner Hawkinson didn’t get much recognition in college while playing at the University of Kansas, as he endured two coaching changes and four losing seasons. After he was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals, most viewed him as a project who would “at-best” make the practice squad and hopefully develop into a quality backup in 2-3 years.
Known as a strong technician and high-IQ player, Hawkinson will need to prove he can play with better strength and balance to beat NFL defensive lineman, and he’s probably a few years in an NFL weight-lifting program away from becoming a quality NFL lineman.
At Kansas, Hawkinson started all 12 games at left tackle in 2009, and received first-team Freshman All-American honors from the Football Writers Association of America. Hawkinson started every game in 2010 at left tackle, then switched to the right side in 2011. Hawkinson finished up his senior year with an All-Big 12 second-team selection.
Hawkinson ended up with 48 consecutive starts across the offensive line (primarily at tackle), and finished his college career as the KU record-holder for games started, as well as consecutive games started.
What to Expect with the Bengals
Hawkinson got a lot of run with the starters during the offseason workouts sessions, but that was due to Andrew Whitworth’s knee surgery and Andre Smith “personal” issues. Still, he drew good reviews from the coaches, and already appears to have a good shot at making the Bengals’ 53-man roster as a backup.
Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander has already said in a previous interview that Hawkinson isn’t here to earn a spot on the practice squad like most project him to do, but instead look to claim one of the 53 roster spots on the opening day roster:
"I’m very happy to get the kid. He’s smart, he’s a great character guy, team captain, very competitive, a nice All-American boy. He’s a very versatile guy. He’s going to play all the spots and make everyone’s seat a little uncomfortable.He’s kind of a young guy bodywise. (He’s) maybe a little bit behind some others, and is going to mature and get stronger and grow into it and, hopefully, be a great NFL player."
His versatility and ability to play all five o-line spots raises his value significantly. Expect to see him barely make the 53-man, but is probably a gameday inactive for most of the season.