Hughes provides depth outside for Colts' 'D'

Posted April 23, 2010 @ 12:15 a.m.
Posted By Dan Arkush

While Colts team president Bill Polian has been making a much bigger deal out of his team's need for bigger, stronger run blockers for the offensive line this offseason, it was clear to close observers of the Colts that the defensive line also could use some help.

The need on the defensive side of the ball became a lot greater following the release of versatile veteran Raheem Brock, who very effectively played in all 16 games for the Colts at both end and tackle for the sixth time in eight seasons in '09. With Brock tiring of his constantly shifting act and the Colts mutually agreeing to let him split the scene, the D-line suddenly seemed a bit thin on the edges.

Enter 6-2, 254-pound TCU product Jerry Hughes, who at the very least should give the Colts another quality pass rusher off the edge to go with twin terrors Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis after being selected with the team's first pick in the first round.

Hughes, a former running back, played his entire career at left end and was the nation's leading sacker with 15 in 2008. Possessing a wicked first step and excellent anticipation, he's an undersized but relentless customer who should fit nicely in the Colts' one-gap scheme.

Hughes could stand to improve against the run, but in Colts defensive coordinator Larry Coyer's unpredictable, blitz-happy defense, where constantly alternating fronts and coverages create more one-on-one situations for his speedy ends, Hughes' primary function will be to pressure the passer, which is something he never has had trouble doing.

On Friday, the odds are strong that Polian will put his second- and third-round money where his mouth has been primarily positioned on the offensive line.

Of course, with the Colts you never can be quite sure what they will do — except end up drafting wisely more often than not.

 

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