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Los Angeles Chargers Sign Jaylinn Hawkins – How Does This Affect The Beat-up Secondary?

Chargers pick up former Falcons safety Jaylinn Hawkins off the waiver wire. How does this affect the Chargers beat-up secondary?

The Los Angeles Chargers were not alone in putting in a waiver for former Falcons safety, Jaylinn Hawkins. The Chargers picked him up after the bad news of special teams ace and backup safety Raheem Layne tore his ACL. So, how does the signing of Jaylinn Hawkins affect the Chargers secondary?

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Chargers Sign Jaylinn Hawkins – How Does This Affect The Secondary?

Jaylinn Hawkins Career

Jaylinn Hawkins started his career as a fourth-round selection out of Cal in 2020. After playing sparingly in his rookie year, he started to gain snaps in 2021. During the course of the season, Hawkins became an important chess piece on defense for the Falcons and was in for a big 2022 season.

Exactly that happened. In 2022, Hawkinns played 955 snaps, recording 56 tackles, 11 stops, a forced fumble, two interceptions, and four pass breakups, earning a solid 59.8 defensive grade, playing mainly as a free safety with 587 snaps, and 233 snaps around the line of scrimmage as a box defender.

So, why did the Falcons release a player who started 16 games for them last season, and showed great promise? The partial truth is circumstance; Head Coach Arthur Smith was quoted saying “I have a lot of respect for Hawk. I wish him the best in the future.” … “Circumstances change.”

The rest of the truth is that Hawkins has always been a below-average defender in coverage, having plenty of lapses in coverage, and a lack of speed to keep up with deep receivers. SB Nation’s Falcon site spoke on why Hawkins was released: “Hawkins didn’t have much of a role this year under new defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen, and with DeMarcco Hellams drawing more snaps in two of the past three weeks on defense…”

Jaylinn Hawkins Player Profile

Jaylinn Hawkins was touted for his stocky frame at 6’1 208, ability to hit, and versatility in college. All three of these traits translated well to the NFL, as he was a very clutch defender for the Falcons in tenure.

The newly signed Hawkins is coming off his most productive season as an NFL defender. SB Nation’s Falcoholic site quoted him: “At his best during his starting stints, Hawkins has shown himself to be a physical, aggressive defender, one who delivers big hits and can come up with timely turnovers” Jaylinn Hawkins was T-7th in 2022 for QB hurries and was a very effective pass rusher, though he was not often a designated rusher.

The now 26-year-old defender has displayed potential to be a very good around-the-line-of-scrimmage defender, playing a role similar to what the Chargers had in Adrian Phillips. Hawkins brings physicality, experience, and versatility to a decimated Chargers safety group.

Why Did The Los Angeles Chargers Sign Hawkins?

With the injury to standout special teamer Raheem Layne, JT Woods on the reserve/non-football illness list, and Alohi Gilman battling with a heel injury, the Chargers needed safety depth, and the former Golden Bear was the best available.

Hawkins’s skillset is very similar to the safety he is replacing, Layne. Both are stockier, box defenders who struggle in coverage. Hawkins also has played well on special teams and will likely directly replace Layne on special teams. The 2020 fourth-round selection has a career special teams grade average of 63.9.

Hawkins has shown the ability to be a solid short-term starter or a very good rotational/third safety piece for the Falcons, who can also play special teams. This is exactly what the Chargers need at this point in the season.

Dean Marlowe has played way above expectation in his two starts, but relying on a 31-year-old safety who played 209 snaps last season to start long-term is a risky move. Hawkins gives the Brandon Staley-led group another option. Overall, strong depth and an experienced special teamer should not hurt a team that desperately needs those qualities in their safety room. Welcome to Los Angeles, Jaylinn Hawkins.

Main Photo: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports


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