When he played at UNLV, Joe Hawley was an aggressive, emotional player who embodied what it meant to be a down-in-the-dirt offensive lineman.
Now, with his football future out of his hands, he doesn’t know what to do with his emotions as he waits for the three-day NFL Draft, which begins today.
“I’ve heard mixed things, from the third round to free agency,” Hawley said. “I’m anxious and nervous about it.”
Draft experts also are mixed in their opinions. Pro Football Weekly’s Nolan Nawrocki said he projected Hawley, a 6-foot-3-inch, 297-pound center/guard, as a possible fifth-round choice. Wes Bunting of the National Football Post forecast Hawley signing as a free agent.
Hawley has been interviewed with the Atlanta Falcons, Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos and Philadelphia Eagles, an encouraging sign entering the draft.
“I feel I’ve done well to improve my draft status,” Hawley said. “Most teams want me as a center, but some teams are talking to me about guard and like that I have a lot of versatility to play (both) positions.”
Ryan Wolfe, the leading receiver in UNLV history, likely will sign as a free agent largely because scouts still don’t have a clear picture of his speed.
He didn’t run the 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine in February because he didn’t have time to train after recovering from a broken left foot. Then at UNLV’s pro day March 25, Wolfe (6-1, 205) pulled his left hamstring while completing the run and wasn’t able to schedule another workout.
“If it doesn’t work out, I’m not drafted, it’s not going to be the end of the world,” said Wolfe, who interviewed with the Falcons. “It could be to my advantage going to a team that has the best opportunity of making the team in the long run.”
Linebacker Jason Beauchamp (6-3, 244) appears headed to be a free agent, though he might be selected late in the draft. He said he has spoken briefly to about 10 teams but has not had any private workouts.
He improved his numbers from the combine at pro day, going from 4.89 seconds in the 40 to 4.71, which would have been 10th among linebackers at the combine.
Beauchamp also increased his 225-pound bench press repetitions from 21 to 30, which would have been fourth at that position at the combine.
“I think in the combine and pro day I did well,” Beauchamp said. “I’m not worried about the numbers.”
Utah linebacker Stevenson Sylvester (6-2, 231), a Valley High School graduate, could be a late-round pick.
He said he briefly has talked to eight or nine teams but, like Beauchamp, didn’t have private workouts.
At the combine, Sylvester ran a 4.71 in the 40 but said his Utah work should make the difference.
Sylvester was first-team All-Mountain West Conference last season after making 81 tackles, including five for losses.
“The draft is for who plays the best football,” Sylvester said. “That tape doesn’t lie. It shows I can play football.”
Contact reporter Mark Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2914.