The first season of David Hawthorne's tenure with the Saints was about as close to a disaster as one could imagine. Performance wise, it was in keeping with some of the medium profile veteran linebacker pick ups of the past like Bryan Cox, Derrick Rodgers, Dan Morgan, Clint Ingram, Orlando Ruff and Rufus Porter that resulted in pure trash. Injuries limited his playing time and his effectiveness when he was on the field. He never seemed at top speed or at an ideal weight throughout the course of his limited action on the field. When on the field, he was participating in earnest with the routine gashings the team suffered on the ground.
Pro Football Focus graded Hawthorne as 36th of 43 rated linebackers in a 4-3 system, and he finished with a 2.24 GPA in my grading system which was good enough for the bottom quarter of the roster. Hawthorne played just 11 games, the lowest of his career, had just 38 tackles which was the lowest since his rookie year and while he had 6 sacks, 5 forced fumbles and 7 interceptions in three seasons with the Seahawks prior to joining the Saints, he posted zeros in all three of those categories in 2012. Saying his first season was a bust is putting it mildly.
With Rob Ryan on board as a new defensive coordinator with a new scheme, you'd think this would be a fresh start for Hawthorne. And hey, if he was a starter last year in a 4-3, you figure he stands a good shot of starting again once you add another linebacker on the field to the mix with this new scheme. Problem is, it's been Vilma and Lofton as the inside backers almost exclusively so far. Not only that, but Ramon Humber seems to be the primary guy getting some work with the 1's when they get pulled out. Hawthorne's action has been limited and because Payton is quiet as a mouse on injuries we're not sure if he's banged up again but that is certainly possible. Or maybe he's just not what the Saints thought they were getting. What we do know is he's not really considered a starter at inside linebacker for the moment. Not good when you consider last year. Unfortunately another season like last year likely puts Hawthorne on the chopping block and in the company of the not so esteemed names I listed above in Saints history.
I hope he figures it out fast. I had such high hopes for this guy.