With all the anticipation and uncertainty surrounding the Packers' fifth pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, it turns out Ted Thompson has had his heart set for weeks on the guy he wanted.
Thompson, Executive Vice President, General Manager and Director of Football Operations, did a lot of praying Friday night that linebacker A.J. Hawk would still be available come the fifth pick.
Everything worked out for Thompson as the Packers got their man.
Hawk comes to Green Bay from Ohio State, where he had an illustrious college career. He earned first-team All-America honors in his junior and senior seasons. Last season he also was chosen as the Big Ten's Defensive Player of the Year and was the recipient of the Lombardi Trophy.
A mirror of consistency, Hawk led his team in tackles in each of the three seasons he started, and never missed a game during that time. He finished his collegiate career with 394 total tackles, ranking fifth on the Buckeyes' career-record list, and had 41 stops behind the line of scrimmage.
"We felt like he was a really good choice," Thompson said shortly after the selection was made. "He's a good fit for us, a good fit for this team. He qualified in almost every area and criteria we were looking at. I was very excited about it."
Thompson, a linebacker himself during his NFL career, said there were several calls made with attractive offers to take the Packers' pick, but in the end Hawk was too good to pass up.
"Like I told the fans out in the atrium, we went through a lot of pain and heartache to pick at the number five spot," Thompson said. "To be able to get a player of this caliber was just too tempting to turn down."
Hawk is in position to make an immediate impact on the Packers defense that ranked 23rd against the rush last season. An admitted fan of the Packers, Hawk says he is eager to get to Green Bay and become a part of the Packers tradition.
"I've grown up watching the Packers for a long time and just have a lot of respect for their tradition and history," Hawk said in a conference call. "I think it is a good fit, hopefully, because I come from Ohio State where we have great tradition there, and it is a football town (in Green Bay) just like in Columbus. I love the fans there and how they care so much about the team."
Hawk was nowhere to be seen on stage at the draft in New York, but it's because he chose not to take the flight from Ohio. Instead, he wanted to spend the day relaxing away from the spotlight with extended family and friends.
The Packers coaches had plenty of praise for their top pick. Linebackers coach Winston Moss is looking forward to the leadership and competitiveness Hawk brings to the field.
"The one great thing that I think A.J. is going to bring is quiet leadership," Moss said. "I think he's going to be a guy that is going to show you how to get it done by example. He may not say a lot, but he is going to go on the field and everything he does is going to be at a high level. This is a very, very quality individual."
Sounds like a perfect fit for the Packers.