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Some amateur analysis of Colts first round pick Jerry Hughes

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It's the Friday just prior to Memorial Day weekend. I hope many of you have some fun plans in store. Maybe some of you will go to the Indy 500. Personally, I hate racing. My grandfather LIVED for racing and the 500. I never saw the appeal. The only excitement was when a crash happened, and in football "crashes" happen on every single play.

But, if you are a race lover, enjoy your cold one as you toast to Colts scouting assistant A.J. Foyt IV (or, Foyt 4) as he zips around the track on Sunday.

For me, I'd rather sit at home and watch film on Colts first round pick Jerry Hughes. Yes, I'm sure there are other things I could be doing: Running, biking, the dishes, the laundry, etc. Fie on them, I say. Fie! What brings me joy in a football-less late-May is to watch tape of the man who will, hopefully, add even more pass rushing awesomeness to the Colts defense.

The video I'm watching is this one from

As you watch, some of the scouting reports on Hughes start to make sense. He has very few pass rushing moves. He almost completely an edge rusher. No dynamic spin and swim move, ala Freeney in 2002. Tremendous speed and quickness. Great lateral feet. Smart player with the ability to recognize plays and diagnose a solution to get the ball carrier quickly.

From the tape:

  • First play, the Virginia offense that Hughes is playing against uses that cheesy option crap the Titans used to run against the Colts. They run away from Hughes, but he manages to catch-up to the ball carrier 5 yards down the field.
  • At the :15 second mark, Hughes fights off a blocker to tackle the RB at the line of scrimmage. Nice play.
  • At the :29 mark, the Virginia offense spreads TCU out. From the shotgun, they run a screen. While on his way to the QB, Hughes immediately recognizes screen. He runs side-to-side, catches the ball carrier from behind, and tackles him for only a 3 yard gain. The play is so god that a Virginia lineman (#64) smacks his hands together in frustration after Hughes makes the tackle.
  • :47, this is why Hughes was drafted in Round One. Beats the tackle off the edge, sacks the QB. Once again, #64 for Virginia vents frustration.
  • 1:00, Hughes makes a good inside move to penetrate the backfield. The o-lineman clearly hold him, impeding his line to the QB, who escapes the rush. 
  • The 1:20 mark now shifts to a BYU game. Hughes does a poor job tackling the ball carrier.
  • 1:50 mark, this is how the Colts may likely use Hughes as a "joker" linebacker. Before the snap of the ball, Hughes takes his hand off the ground and shifts from a rush end to a blitzing LBer. Instead of attacking the edge, he takes two steps to his right and shoots the gap between the tackle and guard. The BYU o-line is completely befuddled. Within half a second, Hughes has a bee-line to the QB. The BYU QB quickly gets rid of the football before Hughes can clobber him.
  • 2:07 mark, this one shows Hughes stunting back and around the tackle to get inside pressure, which he does. The pressure forces the BYU QB into a quick throw.
  • 2:32 mark, Hughes lines up on the opposite side and manages to get inside pressure.
  • 2:59 mark, this is just AWESOME! Hughes beats the tackle and sends utterly crushes the BYU QB, causing a fumble that TCU recovers. It's a total Robert Mathis move. Watch it a few times and you'll begin counting down the days to Training Camp.
  • 3:25, BYU starts using a back to chip Hughes. He still gets pressure.
  • 3:45, we are now watching the Nov. 14th Utah game. At 3:45, do a freeze frame. Hughes = Mathis. Hughes also had his facemask tugged, and still got to the QB.
  • 4:10, Hughes shows off his bull rush, and he damn near embarrasses the Utah tackle. Utah QB is damn lucky his tipped ball is not intercepted. In the NFL, that play is likely a turnover.
  • 4:15 mark shows us something interesting. Utah is running Wild Cat, and they run to Hughes' side. Jerry does a good job moving laterally, preventing the option QB from finding a hole to run through. 
  • 4:25, once again Hughes starts outside, but switches inside to toss off the Utah tackle and get to the QB. At this point, I'm starting to feel sorry for Utah's takcle. Hughes just tosses him aside like a rag doll.
  • 5:11, again Hughes humiliates the tackle and nearly kills the QB. Why isn't Utah doubling on Hughes? Are they THAT stupid? Oh wait, the tape shows they did double him, using a back to chip. The back does a pretty piss poor job helping the tackle.
  • 5:25, Hughes shows a little spin. He lines up at end, but stunts to pressure from the inside. He spins out from a guard's block and has a clear path to the QB. The Utah QB makes a good hot read and gets rid of the football before Hughes can crush him.
  • 6:05, the Utah tackle just seems to give up on blocking Hughes and just blatantly holds him. I mean, if the tackle held Hughes any close than that, they'd have gotten married after the game. The refs must have been paid off at halftime not to see that penalty. Oh, and despite getting held, Hughes still gets pressure.
  • 7:21, we're now watching the Fiesta Bowl against Boise State. At this mark, Hughes is used as a stand-up rush linebacker. Again, think "joker." He beats the tackle and nearly drives the Boise State QB into the turf.
  • 7:30, Hughes has his hand back down again, and get good pressure on an edge rush.
  • 7:41, excellent play here. Hughes does a "fake rush," and is instead playing for the quick throw, which the Boise State QB makes. Hughes jumps up and deflects the pass.
  • 8:07, this is a pretty impressive play. Hughes pushes his lineman down the line and get the tackle on the back. Hughes manages to get underneath the back, hold him, and prevent his knees from touching the ground. While he is doing this, another TCU player runs in and strips the football loose from the back. It also looks like Hughes recovers the fumble. That's a helluva play right there.

Bottom line, the Colts got one VERY good rusher with their first pick. While he is indeed a bit raw, Hughes is perfectly suited to play in the Colts defense. If he stays healthy, he will certainly make an immediate impact with this Colts defense.