|(Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports)|
The Colts traded a 2014 4th round pick to Cleveland so they could select Tennessee-Martin Defensive Tackle Montori Hughes with the 6th pick in the 5th round, continuing a trend of selecting linemen on both sides of the ball. At 6-4, 329 pounds, Hughes is a relatively athletic big man. He flew under the radar for much of his college career after being dismissed for unspecified off the field issues after a season at the University of Tennessee. Hughes also struggled with academic eligibility before his dismissal, having to play a year at Hargrave Military Academy before he could even get into UT.
If not for the off-field problems that wound up landing him at UT-Martin, Hughes might have been a more highly touted prospect. The NFL Network’s Mike Mayock’s quick analysis was very positive (of course, most of the analysis during draft broadcasts is strongly optimistic):
"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."
Hughes will play nose tackle for the Colts, a position for which he is well suited. He is strong and decently mobile (although his bench press reps, 22, are a bit concerning). Also important to Indy’s scheme, Montori Hughes is gigantic. If he can use his size, athleticism, and strength to draw double teams and generally be a land mass, Hughes could make it into the NT rotation in 2013.
Here are some scouting videos of Montori Hughes:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ngG5CpuQbc versus Northern Illinois, 2012
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYYZmz-TADc Senior Bowl
CBS Sports’ Dane Brugler’s analysis uses words like “explosive” and “powerful,” and, of course, “large.”
Strengths: Hughes passes the eye test with good bulk throughout his frame. Works hard in the weight room and has added approximately 75 pounds since high school, weighing 255 pounds as a senior at Murfreesboro Siegel. Moves light on his feet with an explosive first step to beat blockers off the snap. Shows natural burst to close and finish in a flash. Shows an intense competitive nature and loves to talk on the field. Large, powerful hands to swat blockers and stays balanced through contact.
Weaknesses: Questions about whether or not he can keep his head on straight after multiple incidents in Knoxville, although nothing criminal. Allows his pad level to rise off the snap and will struggle with leverage at times. Room to improve his fundamentals to shed quicker, relying too much on his tools and not technique. Needs to improve his awareness and recognition skills to find the ball quicker and react accordingly. Has a good motor when he has a full tank, but is known to take some plays off. Most of his production came against FCS-level competition.
Compares To: Red Bryant, DT, Seattle Seahawks
NFL.com’s Combine profile on Hughes breaks him down as a guy who needs to work harder on his technique, but a suitably strong tackle who can draw double teams:
NFL-sized nose tackle with thick upper body and strength through the thighs. Flashes initial quickness off the ball, can drive the center backwards or lift him off the ground post-snap when fully utilizing his strength and explosiveness. Does not give much ground against single or double blocks. Shows the agility to spin off blocks and move to the ball down the line. Provides pressure up the middle with a swim move or quick movement into either A-gap. Quick enough to chase quarterbacks trying to leave the pocket if free from his block, can also force cut backs by ballcarriers by his effort to the ball in the backfield. Works hard to hold the line using his lower body strength, and can split doubles to get to the ball in tight quarters. Flashes violent hands to rip off man-up blocks.
Needs to use his hands more consistently to control his man and gain leverage. Can struggle to disengage to make plays. Will anticipate the snap at times, jumping offside or getting off-balance so centers can control him. Lacks closing speed and the ability to break down to make many plays outside the box against elusive ballcarriers. Takes time to recover once on the ground. Played against a lower level of competition after being dismissed from Tennessee, was far from dominant in terms of his strength against better FCS players. Work ethic and stamina has been questioned.
Hughes is a wide-body nose tackle with the agility scouts and coaches love to see. He needed a prep school detour for academic issues, which dogged him during his time in Tennessee as well before his dismissal from that program. Teams will need to see him prove his work ethic, but if he does, he could be a nice rotational piece for a 4-3 base defensive team at the next level.
Montori Hughes isn’t going to run many players down in the open field, and he has trouble shedding blocks, despite his ability to push offensive linemen backward. However, he is a guy who can take up space and keep offensive linemen off of the second level. He’ll need to work on his discipline and positioning to make any noise in the NFL, but he definitely has the necessary physical attributes. After playing against FCS competition, Hughes will have much to prove about his ability to play against the best of the best. If he can silence concerns about his work ethic, he could turn out to be a solid rotational player and a good find.
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Maybe I'm weird, but I don't think he was picked necessarily as a NT. This guy is very athletic for his size. My initial thought is him playing as a situational DE on short yardage and goal line sets.
It would seem to me that Hughes here in spite of his considerable potential may be a bit of a project both physically mentally, and maturity wise. Given that several of the current DT/NTs are either injury prone like McKinney, one year FAs like Franklin, 4-3 era hold overs, or in 2014 UFAs like Fili Moala, this pick makes lots of sense as a value pick for the future. I am sure the Colts would not have a problem developing Hughes on the practice squad. I see this as more of a 2014 season developmental pick.
@thellamajockey That's certainly a possibility. I get the impression he might not be a very fast learner, though football is vastly different from academics.
@paulcareyjr Same here.
@MarcusDugan @thellamajockey Sounds more like a maturity issue than anything else. Being in the NFL is demanding enough, some 22 year old's need the extra year to grow up a bit more. Ryan Leaf is the classic example of all the talent and potential in the world but not nearly mature enough for NFL pressure and expectations. We forget how most of us were at that age.