Last offseason, the Colts' new front office and coaches preached running and stopping the run. But then they went out and drafted skill players: two tight ends, two wide receivers and a running back along with Andrew Luck.
This year, however, the Colts are clearly addressing that mantra, having already addressed the interior line by picking Hugh Thornton and then Khaled Holmes. Now the Colts look at the defensive interior with Montori Hughes, who will likely compete at nose tackle.
Hughes has the prototypical size for a tackle, at 6'4", 329 pounds. He could slide out to end if necessary (very quick), but will stay inside for Indianapolis. The Colts now have several players competing for the position, with Brandon McKinney, Aubrayo Franklin and 2012 fifth-round pick Josh Chapman joining Hughes.
While the Colts have a lot of bodies at the position, I like the Hughes selection because of his ceiling. Whereas the Holmes pick in the fourth round seems like another mediocre body amidst a large group, Hughes has the potential to rise above the group and be a long-term solution on the defensive line.
Hughes has great size and strength with a thick body and legs that anchor his well-built frame. He has above-average quickness off the snap and does a good job of using that quickness and leverage to drive centers and guards backwards.
He generally doesn't give up ground in the run game and can take up space and double-teams well, something that former nose tackle Antonio Johnson struggled to do.
Hughes has quick feet and has the ability to spin and slide off of blocks well when engaged and has very powerful hand movements that can shed blocks and keep him balanced.
Hughes has a plethora of issues littering his past, a number of which led to his getting kicked off of the University of Tennessee team (causing the transfer to Tennessee-Martin). Coaches have also questioned his motor and work ethic, although the coaches at Tennessee-Martin reported no issues with him.
Hughes has good quickness in the box but lacks straight-line speed to catch backs outside of the trenches. That lack of speed also leads to quarterbacks eluding him when he gets pressure up the middle. Hughes also hasn't played against a high level of competition at Tennessee-Martin and will have a big jump to make in the NFL.
As I said above, Hughes has the potential to rise above the group of tackles and be a long-term answer as a run-stuffer (much like Josh Chapman). He could be dominant, but he also could flop if his character issues get in the way of his success.
The best way to sum it up is Mike Mayock's initial reaction to the Colts' selection.
"He's a height-weight speed freak. This kid has more talent than fifth rounders have, it's just a matter of getting it out."
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