I sat with Jason Brewer all throughout the draft, and on more than one occasion, I told him that if the Colts did not select an offensive lineman with the 31st pick, I was going to turn around and punch the person behind me. Didn't matter who it was. I was going to lose my mind and start making a fool of myself, in public, at the NFL Draft.
Then, I started seeing TCU's Jerry Hughes fall. And fall. And fall.
After Devin McCourty was plucked by the Patriots and Kyle Wilson was snatched up by the Jets, I felt pretty good the Colts would take Rodger Saffold or Charles Brown. Both are solid. Both are way better left tackles than Charlie Johnson or Tony Ugoh.
But, there was Hughes, just sitting there. The same Hughes that Football Outsiders ranked as the #1 pass rushing prospect using their SACKSeer system.
Jerry Hughes separates himself from the rest of the pack by virtue of his elite 4.15-second short shuttle run at the Combine. Not only is Hughes' short shuttle time the best amongst defensive linemen in 2010, but it is also better than any shuttle time run by any edge rusher at the Combine in 2009 or 2008.
At 6'1, 255 pounds, Hughes is built well as a defensive end in Indy's Tampa-2. Joe "shake n bake" Baker offered his take on Hughes:
Hughes is a small speedy pass rusher who can spell and backup Freeney and Mathis at the end spots. The Colts really suffered last year without a 3rd edge rushing option.
My personal take is the pick is outstanding. So, no punches flying or embarrassing tirades on the draft floor at Radio City. I'm actually quite ecstatic that Hughes lasted this long. As we all entered this draft, we said offensive line and pass rusher were BIG priorities. Some of you wanted Brandon Graham, and he would have been a great fit as well. However, Hughes offers the type of explosion from the DE position that the Colts absolutely must have to content. Their defense simply does not work when they cannot pressure the QB (see Super Bowl 44, the second half).
With Hughes, the fears we all have year in and out of the Colts losing Dwight Freeney or Robert Mathis have subsided somewhat. The TCU demon adds a third head to a monster of a pass rush. Smart pick by Mr. Polian.
Tomorrow, the Colts have added pressure to possibly make a move in the second round to get Charles Brown, Rodger Saffold, or Bruce Campbell. After those three, there is a drop-off at LT. But that is tomorrow. Tonight, we celebrate.
Welcome to the Indianapolis Colts, Jerry Hughes!