Senior NFL Analyst Ed Thompson has told ColtPower.com that the Colts will hold a private workout with TCU defensive end Jerry Hughes.
Hughes played his college ball at TCU where he was a two-time Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year. He won the Lott Trophy as the nation's top defensive player and the Ted Hendricks Award as the nation's top defensive end in 2009.
During the course of his college career, Hughes appeared in 49 games, totaling 142 tackles, 40.5 tackles for loss, 28.5 sacks, eight forced fumbles, four passes defended, and three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.
The bulk of his production came in his last two seasons — both as a starter — where he had 26.5 sacks, 36 tackles for loss, two interceptions, and eight forced fumbles.
Hughes played light through his first three seasons, tipping the scales at 225 pounds and occasionally playing outside linebacker. During his senior year and the offseason, he added 30 pounds and measured in at 6-foot-2 and 255 pounds at the scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
A great deal of that added weight is muscle, as evidenced by his 26 reps on the 225 pound bench press. The weight that he put on did not affect his athleticism, as he also posted a 34 1/2 inch vertical leap, a 4.65 in the 40 yard dash, a 1.63 time in the 10 yard dash, and a 4.15 second short shuttle.
When a player posts a short shuttle time that is half a second faster than his 40 time, that is an indication that he has excellent change of direction skills, above average acceleration, and good quickness to go along with his top end speed. Since most of the plays he will be involved in require those skills, as well as the strength he built up over the course of the last six months, he has a lot of the attributes the Colts are looking for at the position.
He obviously spent a great deal of time training and preparing for the Combine, working on his 40 time, his short shuttle, and adding the muscle necessary to catch the eyes of scouts, but his college production shows that he is more than a workout warrior, even if his numbers came against the likes of SMU, Colorado State, and Texas State. He is a sudden, explosive athlete that also has a nose for the ball, sound technique, and an ability to quickly redirect himself and pursue the ball carrier.
Hughes is currently ranked as the 34th-best player in the draft according to Scout.com and the third-best linebacker prospect. Due to the fact that he previously weighed 225 pounds, it was assumed that he would play with his hand off the ground, where he does have some experience. But, with the added weight and muscle mass, he would be awfully attractive to any team looking for someone to play end in the Cover 2 defense.
Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney have made consecutive Pro Bowls at the defensive end position, so Indianapolis does have two well-established starters and a number of more pressing needs at other positions. But, they also had a number of more pressing needs and an established starter at tailback last April when they selected Donald Brown, so they may take the highest rated player on their board when they pick at 31st overall this April and that player could be Jerry Hughes.
Freeney just turned 30 and Mathis just turned 29, though, and the Colts don't have any quality depth behind their two stars. Indianapolis has addressed the position in free agency with a couple of young veterans and have also looked at some ends that are rated more towards the end of the draft, so they may pass on Hughes and go for a safer pick such as an offensive lineman or a defensive back. If Bill Pollian and his staff fall in love with Hughes at his workout, it could be an interesting Thursday night in New York.
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