Having traded a 2013 5th round pick in order to move up to select T.Y. Hilton in the 2012 NFL Draft, Ryan Grigson mortgaged a part of the team's future by trading away a 2014 4th round pick to Cleveland Browns for a 5th round selection this year.
With that 5th round selection, the Colts added another body to their defensive line rotation, and a big body at that. UT Martin's Montori Hughes stands at 6ft 4in, 329lbs and can play either defensive end or nose tackle in Chuck Pagano's 3-4 defense.
GM Ryan Grigson gushed over Hughes, saying he can "move like a cat", whilst head coach Pagano compared Hughes' movement skills (in combination with his size) to Baltimore Ravens defensive lineman Haloti Ngata - high praise for the 22 year old, though expecting Hughes to have a Ngata-like impact on this defense would be incredibly premature.
The trade is even more surprising when you consider that Hughes has something of a chequered past from his time in college football. Hughes was recruited by the University of Tennessee, but was dismissed in 2011 for accumulated academic and off-field issues. It seems a bit of a gamble to give away future picks in order to grab somebody with viable concerns, but Grigson clearly thinks it's worth the risk, as he said that Hughes "came in here on a visit and knocked everyone's socks off, looked everyone straight in the eye and just made a really great impression".
So once you move away from his profile, what does the tape tell us about Montori Hughes?
Hughes frequently lined up in a variety of fronts, and played a number of positions. In this play we see Hughes lining up at the 0-technique nose tackle position in a 3 man front - lined directly above the centre.
When the play begins, Hughes engages with the centre and angles his body so one side is free to manouvre and disengage to make a play.
Hughes completes a spin move to break free of the block, and is able to locate the ball and make a crucial stop on a run play.
Throughout the game against Northern Illinois, Hughes showed the ability to clog up running lanes and occupy blockers. Hughes frequently saw double teams in the trenches, and his size has to be accounted for on each play. If Hughes is left one-on-one, his burst and strength can make him a matchup nightmare.
Hughes' strength is one of his main assets, which is key when playing the nose tackle position in a 3-4 defense. His huge, 329lbs frame gives him the necessary size to be a dominating force. In this play, we see Hughes as a focal point of the goal line defense.
Hughes lines up at the 0-technique position again, as Northern Illinois run a quarterback sneak play from the 1 yard line.
Hughes' burst and strength has him in the backfield, preventing the simple sneak up the middle from the quarterback. Unfortunately, the quarterback bounces the play to the left and manages to get in the endzone. However, the play showed Hughes' ability to engage with an offensive lineman and drive him back on top of the quarterback. This kind of sheer strength will be crucial for Chuck Pagano, giving his desire to get bigger on the defensive line to stop the run.
Grigson extolment of Hughes' movement ability flashed up on film, but I came away wanting to see more consistency from him. In the Senior Bowl, Hughes showed some ability as a run stuffer, and ironically came up against new Colts guard Hugh Thornton on the majority of plays - and I felt that Thornton won those battles regularly.
Hughes represents a "boom-or-bust" type pick in my eyes. Can he become more consistent? Can he stay out of trouble off the field? These are two questions which will determine his success as an Indianapolis Colt. He has the physical tools to become a key contributor on the Colts' revamped defensive line, but his role in 2013 is more likely to be confined to a rotational role at both nose tackle and defensive end positions.
What... was there no film of him displaying his cat-like moves by jumping over the line of scrimmage and landing on his feet?
@29sonski I am a faculty member at UT-Martin and the young man had no problems on campus that I am aware of and the few dealings I had with him - his was polite and caused no problem - probably would not label him a scholar but he may have figured out you only get so many chances
@29sonski There hasn't been anything reported that I could find, so very much hoping that he's "turned the corner", so to speak.
In his senior bowl cutups he makes a nice swim move at the NT position and absolutely buries the tailback in the backfield. Good stuff, hope to see him develop well.
DT is a tough position to learn, typically it takes a couple years for a player to get proficient. This kid has the tools and appears to have the right attitude. I don't expect him to be a star, but I think he'll contribute. If anything, it was good to read that about Thorton!