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2010 NFL Draft: Inside the Numbers - New Colts DE Jerry Hughes

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New Colts Defensive End Jerry Hughes was extremely productive the past 2 seasons, leading the Horned Frogs to a combined 23-3 record.  Let's get the basic stats out of the way:

Year Tackles TFL Sacks FF INT
2006 3 1 1 0 0
2007 29 1.5 1 0 1
2008 52 19.5 15 1 2
2009 58 16.5 11 1 0
Total 142 38.5 28 2 3

This is a great trend, as once he was on the field consistently, he was a monster.  His junior year, almost 40% of his tackles were for a loss, and the 19.5 were good enough to rank 8th nationally.  Those sack numbers are pretty crazy as well.  Only thing I'm disappointed with is the number of Forced Fumbles, only 2.  I have a feeling Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis have a thing or two to teach the rookie.

Detractors may also bring up the fact that TCU plays in a "weak" conference, so the numbers are inflated because of it.  According to Jeff Sagarin, TCU had the 60th toughest schedule, very middle of the pack.  Want to know who played easier schedules in 2009?  KSU, Iowa St., Northwestern, Wisconsin, Penn St, Rutgers, Texas Tech, and Michigan.  Michigan, huh?  I seem to recall a DE being drafted from there yesterday, but much higher.  Maybe he should be the one looked into to see if his stats are inflated...

After the jump, you'll see the reason why I'm convinced the Colts got the steal of the draft...

Last week, our friends at Football Outsiders came up with a system for Defensive Ends called SackSEER, that measures how productive they would be (in sacks) over the next 5 years, based on four different criteria, both from college and the combine:

  • Vertical Leap:  This tests their burst and explosion off the line, key to a successful Pass Rusher.
  • Short Shuttle: Change of direction, acceleration, hip flexibility.
  • Sack Rate as Modified: It is sack rate, adjusted for years in the program, improvement from year-to-year (as players get better as they get older), and positional differences.
  • Missed Games Worth of NCAA Eligibility:  Missing games is bad for a Defensive End, especially in college.

To give you an idea who SackSEER has liked the most, here are a few names from the top 10:  Terrell Suggs, DeMarcus Ware, Shawne Merriman, and Mario Williams.  Pretty good list.  The only concern is the couple guys it missed on in the top 10 (Bryan Thomas and Jason Babin), were small school edge rushers, much like Hughes.  Their schools (UAB and WMU) were not playing the schedule TCU did each of the past 2 seasons, so I think it is a little apples-to-oranges, but something to keep in mind.  Also, the #1 player since 1999?  Aaron Schobel.  Guess where he went to school...TCU.

They looked at all the 2010 draft prospects, and guess who came out on top?  Jerry Hughes.  His vertical was middle-of-the-road, but his short shuttle time of 4.15 s was not only best in 2010, but also would have been best in 2008 and 2009.  Sounds like a Colt to me.  His improvement in sack numbers after his sophomore year was much like the improvement of Elvis Dumervil, Patrick Kerney, and Dwight Freeney.  Good company. 

Hughes only missed 3 games, all in his freshman year.  Can't fault him too much for that.  That also means he has a limited injury history, or at least one that didn't keep him out of any games. (See Dr. Blue for more on his injury history).

Hughes is projected to rack up 27.7 sacks over the next 5 years, which I'll take in a heartbeat.  Some of the other top names:  Morgan - 23.5, Griffen - 22.8, Graham - 22.1, Kindle - 18.8, Dunlap - 16.1, Pierre-Paul - 3.8.  No, I did not forget a "1" in front of JPP.  Junior College players do not do well at DE in the NFL.  Good luck to the Giants.

If Hughes does end up being the best DE from this draft class, I think the Colts got the steal of the draft, seeing as though he was the 4th DE taken.  I'm very excited to see what he can do on Sundays for the Colts.