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Film study: Tre Hawkins III — a smart bet on upside

Could sixth-round pick be a Day 3 gem for the Giants

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 18 Old Dominion at Liberty Photo by Lee Coleman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The New York Giants selected Old Dominion cornerback Tre Hawkins III with the 209th overall pick in the sixth round of 2023 NFL Draft. New York’s interest in the small-school player was known; they reportedly used one of their top 30 visits on Hawkins III, who was projected and selected as a Day 3 pick.

According to Kent Lee Platte’s Relative Athletic Score, Hawkins III ranked 40th of 2222 cornerbacks in terms of size and athletic profile. Hawkins III had good agility scores, great explosive numbers, and elite speed, with a good overall composite size grade.

He started his college career in 2018 at Trinity Valley Community College in Texas. He transferred to Old Dominion for the 2020 season, but the year was canceled due to COVID-19. He played 928 snaps for the Monarchs in 2021 and 840 in 2022, starting all 25 of his games.

According to Pro Football Focus, Hawkins had a total of 118 tackles, 30 STOPs, 18 missed tackles (11.6%), nine passes defended and two interceptions, with 12 touchdowns surrendered through two seasons.

His tall lean profile, as well as his physical temperament, are ideal fits for Wink Martindale’s defense. Let’s get into his tape.

Tre Hawkins III is No. 6

Tone setter

Hawkins III sets tones like a music conductor. The desire and passion to violently eliminate opposing players is an indication of his elite competitive and physical toughness. These are the types of picks I want a general manager to make in the sixth round. Here is a montage of the brutality Hawkins III imposes on ball carriers:

Hawkins III is a heavy hitter, as we all see in the clips above. He’s not just executing these types of hits against small-school players; Old Dominion upset Virginia Tech in Week 1 and narrowly lost to Virginia in Week 3. Some of the plays above are against those Power-Five programs. It’s no surprise that Conference USA program had three players selected in the draft for the first time in its history.

It’s easy to love how Hawkins III attacks by going low into the tackle point with bad intentions. His goal isn't just to bring ball carriers down, but also to cause fumbles, which he did three times at Old Dominion. Here is one of the more creative strip fumbles that should have resulted in a turnover:

The aggressive nature of Hawkins III is appreciated, but it was used against him as well. More controlled runners were able to make him miss when he exploded downhill. He also lost contain a few times on the edge; he would run himself too far inside and left cut-back lanes, allowing backs to maneuver into space.

The missed tackles and occasional lack of discipline were frustrating, but any coaching staff should be thrilled to add a player with his disposition for violence and the willingness to play the run, especially at cornerback.

Madden best give him a high hit-power number. I will say this, though, he got away with A LOT of very intense hits along the sideline. Given recent trends in the NFL, that could draw some yellow laundry. To end the appreciation for his physicality, I’ll leave this hit here:


Not only does Hawkins III hit with the force of Thor’s hammer, but he has the necessary athletic traits to be a functional asset in man coverage. He frequently aligned in press technique for the Monarchs. His physicality and length will assist him with that responsibility at the next level, although his feet and punch can improve. For a taller cornerback, Hawkins III is smooth:

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Great coverage and eyes on the red zone seven/corner route that by Hawkins III. He is the slot defender in the top play against South Alabama, but he only had 34 snaps in the slot during the 2022 season. He took one hop-step inside, read the lean of the wide receiver - who could have sold the route better - and attached to the near hip, undercutting and smothering the route.

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Here’s another seven/corner route with Hawkins III as the outside CB to the field against Coastal Carolina, but he was in a considerable minus split inside the numbers. Hawkins III set to the inside, inched back with patience, and waited for the receiver to break before promptly working underneath the route and forcing - what would have been - a perfect throw for a completion attempt.

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After Hawkins III made a great play in coverage against South Alabama, the Jaguars were able to beat him on the same route from a different look. A shotgun, 3x1 set in a loose bunch with the backside nub against the Monarchs’ Cover-0 look with two underneath zones defeat Hawkins III on third down with a corner route. Since there was no safety, Hawkins III cheated inside, and Caulin Lacey (4) sold the corner better than Braylon McReynolds (0) on the previous play, resulting in one of four touchdowns surrendered by Hawkins III in 2022.


Joe Schoen stresses Smart, Tough, and Dependable. There should be no question about Hawkins III’s toughness, but here is a great example of why he plays with intelligence as well. Marshall attempts to run the TE Leak play, and Hawkins III is carrying the post from the numbers to the hash. With safety help over the top, Hawkins keeps contact with his receiver and gets his eyes on the quarterback, who plants and turns in his opposite direction.

Seeing this, Hawkins III passes his receiver to the safety and heads toward the wheel route, which is covered well. The strong safety gets his hands on the football, and Hawkins III is in position to intercept the pass off the tip.


This plays shows Hawkins III's control and balance vs. Virginia Tech. In man coverage against a condensed bunch, Hawkins III has to expand outward against the receiver’s stem; the receiver goes to break back inside and vertically as Hawkins III goes to contact him while flowing laterally.

Instead of grabbing and drawing a flag, Hawkins III flips his hips and maintains subtle contact with the receiver to position himself on the outside hip with safety help to his inside. The quarterback and receiver weren’t on the same page, and an interception was thrown to the safety. What I appreciate about his play is Hawkins III’s ability to flip his hips three times without losing balance. Great footwork and poise.

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The defense jumped offside on this play, but that does not negate the suffocating coverage displayed by Tre Hawkins III against Liberty. From press with no jam at the bottom of the numbers, Hawkins III stays on top of the nine-route and restricts the space of the receiver before locating the football and getting a royal hand on it for a pass breakup. Very good coverage, location skills, and body control to knock the pass away.

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His aggressive nature meshes well with trap coverages. Versus a 3x1 set, Old Dominion runs a trap where Hawkins III will look to cut under anything to the flat with the apex defender assuming the deep role if the No. 1 (outside) wide receiver goes vertical. The No. 2 runs the hitch, and Hawkins III quickly gets to the catch point, and the quarterback throws it into the dirt to avoid a possible interception.

Hawkins III’s burst from a stagnant position allows him to quickly close width when he plants and drives downhill. He used that athletic trait to his advantage a lot when he was coming from depth.

Force at the catch point

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Hawkins III is in off-coverage and surrenders some space against the receiver who wins outside. However, the new Giants’ cornerback is explosive and can quickly get to the catch point. He does a good job getting his mitts into the receiver’s hands to harass and detach them from the football.

Hawkins III decisively reads the quick game slant on first down versus Coastal Carolina. I love the angle of attack through the outside hip (when turned) of the receiver, while wrapping the player up and forcing the incomplete pass.

Here’s a very high-leverage fourth-and-four play against Charlette's Grant DuBose. A drag route is very difficult to cover across the field with that many moving parts in man; Hawkins III is able to get back into phase and quickly closes width with a violent hack at DuBose that popped the football out of his grasp. A true competitor.

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This play is somewhat different than the last couple, but it’s important to show it here before I get into the negatives because it highlights that Hawkins III can deal with speed. That’s Jaylin Lane (83) of Middle Tennesee State in 2021; he is now a member of the Virginia Tech Hokies. He has legit NFL speed, and this is a textbook play from Tre Hawkins III.

The corner is smooth into his backpedal and quickly realizes the vertical; he flips his hip inside the numbers while looking at the quarterback’s intentions to throw deep. Hawkins III turned his head upfield, located Lane, cut off the angle to get on top of the receiver, established inside positioning, initiated contact, and then flashed his eyes to the football before dropping an interception. This is an impressive overall play, and it shows how this cornerback can deal with speed and locate the football. Let’s get into some reasons why Hawkins III wasn’t a Day 2 selection.

Areas of concern

The Georgia State game was not kind to Hawkins III, who struggled to contain Jamari Thrash.

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Hawkins III may have expected his safety to assist him on this play, so the separation over the top doesn’t bother me too much, but the speed gave Hawkins III issues, and he seemed to have a false step with his inside foot that gave Thrash an extra split-second to separate. But even if this was a vertical route that stemmed inside and back onto the numbers, I’m not certain that Hawkins III would have got back into phase; he may have been stacked.

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I showed the first play to set up this missed jam vs. Thrash. On this third-and-6 play, as Hawkins III goes to jam, his feet are in cement, and he gets caught leaning, allowing Thrash to run around his reach and stack up the sideline. I love the upside of Hawkins III’s ability in press, but he needs to be more controlled and disciplined.

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Two plays later, Thrash releases inside to open Hawkins III up before going back outside into the corner’s blindspot before separating for a touchdown. A very smooth route from Thrash, who sold the inside stem very well to help manipulate Hawkins III.

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The issues with speed forced Hawkins III to give breathing room to Thrash, who made him pay on this comeback route.

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The receiver reduces inside right before the snap and Hawkins III matches in off-man coverage. Hawkins III fails to anticipate the receiver’s route and allows him to eat his cushion. The receiver ran a dino stem - hard outside sell, break to the inside on post - which fooled Hawkins III and allowed the receiver to blaze past him for an easy touchdown.

It was, however, impressive that Hawkins III was able to recollect his balance and track the receiver down, but he ultimately scored a touchdown on the play.

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As the outside cornerback, he flips his hips early, giving the receiver easy access to the field side. The Virginia Tech receiver also got on his heels a bit and took advantage of the blindspot Hawkins III provided for him before he entered his break.

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Here’s a play from the slot in 2021 where Hawkins III has a slight hitch in his transition that prevented him from establishing a better position on the slot fade.

Here are just two plays of Hawkins III not locating the football in the air. I don’t think this is necessarily an issue, but it’s something he can certainly improve upon.

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Final thoughts

The Giants added an incredibly physical cornerback with great athletic ability and an aggressive temperament. He played a lot of press-man coverage at Old Dominion, and his aggressive nature should translate well to special teams - he did block a field goal in 2022. It’s easy to see how he set a school record in 2021 for the most tackles ever by a cornerback.

I love this fit for Hawkins III, who can now learn under Giants’ secondary coach Jerome Henderson. Hawkins III still has areas that need development and discipline, but his temperament, strength, and demeanor fit the Giants' style. There’s a high ceiling for Hawkins III if Henderson can inculcate the correct technique to maximize his tantalizing traits.