Aside from threatening to buy me a Jerry Hughes jersey, Nate Dunlevy knows that the former first round defensive end is no laughing matter:
Hughes has been so bad that the only thing keeping him on the Colts' roster is that it's cheaper cap-wise to keep him than cut him. That will only save Hughes for so long, however. He has to produce, or the team will be forced to release him despite the ramifications.
I have a feeling that Jerry Hughes won't survive the preseason.
I think he's a solid back up this year. I am calling 6-7 sacks, 40 tackles with a few of them for loss. And yes, I know this is a bit delusional, but I think he's a solid OLB in the 3-4,I really do.
Hughes has been given only a small role in the defense up to this point. He is a prototypical 34 OLB, and with the switch this year he should become a major asset, especially if actually used on the field.
In 141 snaps last year he recorded 13 tackles, 1 sack, 1 hit, and 9 pressures with only 1.6 YPC allowed in run defense on 12 stops. That was the lowest rate of any defensive lineman who played for the Colts last year.
Hughes may still end up not being worth a 1st rounder, but the Colts suffered with guys like Pollak and Ugoh for years, the least they can do is actually give Hughes more than 8 snaps a game and see if he can extend his small sample production to a more reasonable 400-600 snaps per season tally. Simply cutting him, or continuing to refuse to use him is beyond pointless. He is an investment, and if there was ever a time to gauge the value of that investment, it would be now while expectations for the team will allow some experimentation.
@gbearrin I hope so, and I think every other Colts fan out there does too.
Granted, I do see one cause for skepticism: He never managed to make an impact on special teams. Whereas both Mathis and Freeney, to use two examples, just shined in that role when they were rookies. So that's cause for concern.
But yes, I don't want that to be his only judgement. He's got a new opportunity, which is not something that comes along often in the NFL. Normally, your one chance is there, then gone if it's blown. But he's getting another one. He NEEDS to show something. Otherwise, that's the end of his career right there.
I think he'll show something, though. Standing him up and stepping him back a little bit might make all the difference in the world. If I remember correctly, it's how he was used in college, so it'll at least be familiar.
And no, I don't have any evidence to support this other than a vague feeling I had after last preseason games.
@Jake Well put. I hope it works out for him... and us.