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Cal Bears fan weighs in on Hughes

Daymeion Hughes
Not to be outdone by Sean at Around the Oval, our Cal Bears blogger, Kevin, did a great write up of Colts third round pick Daymeion Hughes. Kevin covers the Bears at The Band Is Out On The Field:
He will help the Colts repeat as champions. He is the best corner Cal has had since I have been watching, better than either Deltha O'Neal (10 picks in 2005 for the Bengals, 1 DUI in 2006) and Nnamdi Asomugha (who had 8 picks last year for the Raiders.)

Obviously, he was considered the best college corner in the country along will Aaron Ross of Texas. He was a consensus All-American after the season, after being a concensus All-American entering the season. Nothing about his performance last year was a fluke. Hughes had eight picks, and a ninth game-saving pick overturned by a bogus pass interference call at Arizona (this interception would have iced the win and eventually Cal to the Rose Bowl, and Arizona then scored to get the lead.) The amazing part about this was that no one threw his way the entire season (the only team that attempted was Arizona.) At times, it seemed like he had as good of a chance of catching a pass in his direction as a receiver had.

Hughes faced pretty good receivers every week during his senior year. Tennessee exploited Cal freshman corners on the other side and never really looked at Hughes' side of the field (answering the question of how the best DB in the nation could have been part of that game.) Against USC, he basically shut down Dwayne Jarrett (5 catches for 66 yards.) Jarrett did score a touchdown, but it Hughes was suppossed to be blitzing and no one picked up Jarrett over the top (This accounted for 25 of Jarrett's 66 yards.)

Against Washington State, he shut out down sub 4.3 Jason Hill (an very underrated receiver) allowing him only two catches after Hill had dominated the Cal secondary the year before.

The concern obviously, is his speed. This is why he would drop below Leon Hall, a corner who was absolutely dominated by better receivers, and looked horrible against Jarrett. I think Hughes is incredibly athletic, even if his is slower than ideal. He will probably need to adjust to the speed of the pro game (like any corner), but he has excellent vision on the field, probably one of the more underrated qualities of a corner. He was one of those rare corners, who even while blanketing his man, he was always completely aware of what was going on on the field. For example, he would see the pass coming off the quarterbacks hand, leave the reciever he was covering and break up a pass going to a tight end. He was so good at this, he literally could shut down half the field. Even when teams didn't look his way, he still found a way to make plays. He also was a leader and worked with two freshman starting corners who improved greatly during the season. (Hughes won the Lott Trophy as the best defensive leader on and off the field, or something like that.)

Overall, he has everything that makes a great corner except for exceptional speed (which never seemed to be a huge problem for him.) If you don't get caught up in his 40 time, he is an absolute steal in the third round. And he is a good guy as well, he is always friendly, super smart, and interesting (he was actually an art practice major as oppossed to a football major.) I'm not sure what his ceiling will be as a pro corner, but he certainly will be a fixture for the Colts for years.