Colts Boost Pass-Rushing Talent

Bill Polian has always said the best two commodities in the NFL are quarterbacks and pass rushers, and he added another of the latter as the Colts took TCU's Jerry Hughes with the 31st pick of the NFL Draft Thursday.

It's the first time the Colts have drafted a defensive end in the first round since 2001, when Indianapolis nabbed Dwight Freeney with the 11th pick. Since then, Freeney has racked up 84 sacks in eight seasons.

"We're thrilled to have Jerry," Colts president Bill Polian said. "We've been searching for the elusive third rusher for a long time, and now we feel like he can fill that bill."

Projected as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 or a defensive end in a Tampa-2 4-3, Polian likes the versatility he sees in the TCU defensive end.

"He can put his hand down, he can stand up .. he's a pure pass rusher. That's what he does," Polian said.

Hughes had a remarkable 28.5 sacks in 49 career games for the Horned Frogs, and will add a third pass-rushing threat behind Freeney and Robert Mathis.

ColtPower.com's Brad Keller profiled Hughes in March after the team had a private workout with him. Keller then accurately predicted Hughes as the Colts' first-round pick earlier this week.

Hughes (6-feet-2, 257 pounds) was called "one of the nation's most feared pass rushers" by Scout.com's Chris Steuber in his Prospect Profile of Hughes earlier this year.

""He's a talented guy. He's a guy with some versatility, particularly as a third down rusher," Colts' coach Jim Caldwell said. "He gives us an opportunity to get up the field on the outside. He can also do some of the things we've done with three-down personnel and a guy that can roam around for us a little bit. He can play that position as well. We think he's going to be able to give us some power along with that rush, and he's a guy that certainly has all the moves in his package and when John (Teerlinck) gets his hands on him and works with him, he'll get him to play like all of our guys do when they get after the passer. We are certainly pleased to have him."

For his part, Hughes says he didn't expect to end up with the Colts, but he can learn from the talent already on the roster.

""I had no idea I was on their radar," he said. "I had no visits or any contact with the Colts. I met with them one time at the Combine.

"[Freeney and Mathis] are the epitome of what defensive ends-pass rushers are. You've got Freeney and Mathis coming off that edge bringing that speed, bringing the force, bringing all the moves. You can just sit back and become a student of the game by just watching them."


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