Few college running backs were more productive over the last two years than Louisville’s Javian Hawkins. A former two-star prospect (essentially unranked) in the 2018 recruiting cycle, Hawkins broke the school record for single-season rushing yardage as a redshirt freshman the following year: 264 carries, 1,525 yards, nine touchdowns.
Hawkins then played in eight games in 2020, rushing for 822 yards and seven touchdowns, before opting out to prepare for the NFL Draft.
Despite his production, Hawkins had an uphill battle to climb when he entered the draft. At 5’8, 183 lbs, Hawkins is one of the smallest backs in the 2021 draft class. His 4.46 40-yard dash would be impressive at 215 lbs, like top-ranked Travis Etienne, who ran a 4.45, but for Hawkins the testing would have had to go through the roof.
It didn’t and so despite elite production and above-average athleticism, he’s been projected as a day three pick or priority undrafted free agent. One team that has shown interest and might use a sixth or seventh round pick on him is the LA Rams. We know that the Rams have met with Hawkins in the pre-draft process, the only reported running back I am aware of this year, and it lines up that the team could feel compelled to give him a chance in a shallow talent pool.
RB Javian Hawkins with a receiving rep: pic.twitter.com/B3jRM43gth— Matt McGavic (@GeneralWasp) March 30, 2021
Les Snead has been one of the more active GMs in the NFL when it comes to selecting running backs: Isaiah Pead in 2012, Zac Stacy in 2013, Tre Mason in 2014, Todd Gurley in 2015, John Kelly in 2018, Darrell Henderson in 2019, and Cam Akers in 2020.
Will Snead and Sean McVay feel content with Akers, Henderson, Xavier Jones, and Raymond Calais, or could another drafted back be joining the unit next month?
At the next level, Hawkins doesn’t profile as a feature back, but his skill set demands a few chances each week to get involved in the passing game, jet motion, and perimeter runs. The challenge with Hawkins in the NFL is he lacks natural vision, is undersized, and has some ball security issues. Despite his skill set translating well to pass-catching duties out of the backfield, he only caught 21 passes in college, so he must prove his ability to be a reliable receiver. Hawkins is a niche player, but his ability to produce big plays and add a speed dynamic gives him a chance at the next level.