Tanner Hawkinson’s transition from tackle to the interior took another step forward last weekend at Cincinnati Bengals rookie minicamp.
Hawkinson, the former Kansas University offensive lineman who started four consecutive seasons at tackle and was drafted by Cincinnati in the fifth round of last month’s NFL Draft, showed Bengals coaches enough at guard and center during the three-day event to inspire them to expedite his move inside.
“He has the frame to be an inside player,” Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander said on the team’s official website last weekend.
The 6-foot-5, 298-pound Hawkinson played four of the five positions — left tackle, left guard, right guard and center — during the team’s minicamp, something Alexander said he could not remember another lineman doing so early in his pro career.
“I’ll have to get back to you on that,” Alexander told reporters after the Saturday morning practice. “He’s got good quickness, he’s smart. He’s an instinctive player.”
Hawkinson was one of three rookie offensive linemen who impressed the veteran O-Line coach at the camp, and Anderson said he could envision immediate playing time for each of them this fall.
“All three guys are going to challenge,” Alexander said of Hawkinson and seventh-round picks Reid Fragel of Ohio State and T.J. Johnson of South Carolina.
As for how Hawkinson handled his first stab at playing center, the McPherson native spoke of a learning curve.
“It was a little awkward,” Hawkinson told the team site. “(But) getting that muscle memory down, then it’s just like its second nature.
“It wasn’t bad (at guard either). It’s a little different, of course, but when they drafted me they told me they thought I could play all five positions.”
Hawkinson’s next activity with the Bengals will come May 21-23, when the team begins OTAs (organized team activities).
Six other former Jayhawks participated in NFL minicamps last weekend, but none seemed to make much of an impact.
Joel Thorman, of ArrowheadPride.com, wrote that former KU quarterback Dayne Crist was outperformed at the Kansas City Chiefs minicamp by fellow undrafted free agent and former Tennessee QB Tyler Bray.
“Bray was clearly the best quarterback on the field,” Thorman wrote in his minicamp wrap-up. “It wasn’t really close. Dayne Crist was a far second.”
Other reports from Chiefs camp indicated that former Jayhawk Toben Opurum worked out at linebacker and running back.