Hawley Headed To Atlanta
April 24, 2010
LAS VEGAS - Joe Hawley went higher than any offensive lineman in UNLV history on Saturday when he was selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the fourth round of the NFL Draft.
Hawley, a three-year starter for the Rebels, lined up at both center and guard during his college career. The Yorba Linda, Calif., native and graduate of Esperanza High School in Anaheim was selected 117th overall to become the first Rebel offensive lineman drafted since center Dominic Furio in the seventh and final round to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2004. Before Saturday, the highest a Rebel blocker was drafted was the fifth round (135th overall) when Lonnie Palelei went to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1993.
Hawley said he his new team probably would use him at center but he could also be a guard in the pro ranks.
"They said they liked my versatility," Hawley said by telephone from California. "I can play anywhere in the interior. The Falcons were one of the teams my agent thought may pick me but I was kind of surprised how early it was, to be honest. They called me during their pick time to tell me but when my name came across the screen it was still kind of surreal."
Hawley says he has to report to his first minicamp early next month but for now a celebratory barbecue is on tap for Saturday night.
"I'm pretty excited to say the least."
Hawley's selection marked the fourth consecutive year that at least one UNLV player was drafted, which is the longest streak for the Mountain West Conference school since an eight-year string in 1975-82 when the draft had significantly more rounds each year.
Officially listed at 6-foot-3, 297 pounds by the NFL, Hawley saw his stock rise dramatically after performing well in Texas Vs. The Nation All-Star Challenge on Feb. 6 in El Paso, Texas. After earning an invitation to the NFL Combine, Hawley hit a lot of teams' radar by putting up impressive numbers in multiple categories and then improving on a couple more during UNLV's annual Pro Day on campus late last month.
On Saturday Hawley became the fifth Rebel ever drafted by the Falcons but the first in nearly a quarter century. The others were DB Charles Dimry (1988), WR George Thomas (1988), LB Kirk Dodge (1984) and RB Ray Strong (1978).
UNLV OFFENSIVE LINEMEN IN THE NFL DRAFT YEAR PLAYER TEAM RD PICK 2010 Joe Hawley Atlanta Falcons 4 117 2004 Dominic Furio Philadelphia Eagles 7 243 1994 Jerry Reynolds Cincinnati Bengals 6 184 1993 Lonnie Palelei Pittsburgh Steelers 5 135 1981 Art Plunkett Los Angeles Rams 8 216 1977 Blanchard Carter Baltimore Colts 7 193 1976 Joe Ingersoll Miami Dolphins 7 185