When NFL commissioner Roger Goodell approached the podium at center stage in New York’s Radio City Music Hall to announce the first round selection of the Indianapolis Colts, every fan that roots for Peyton Manning and crew stopped to think, is the pick that will help them earn the title that eluded them last season. Then these words begin to escape the commissioner’s mouth through the microphone and over the speakers inside of Radio City, “with the 31st pick in the 2010 NFL Draft the Indianapolis Colts select Jerry Hughes, defensive end from TCU.”
Once Goodell was done announcing the Colts first round selection many had to wonder including myself, what exactly was Jim Irsay (Colts’ owner) and Bill Polian (Colts’ President) thinking? Why would they select a pass rushing defensive end when they currently have arguably the best defensive end combo (Dwight Freeny and Robert Mathis) in the NFL already? Sure two players that were targeted by the Colts organization and fans alike (defensive tackle Jared Odrick at #28 by Miami and cornerback Kyle Wilson at #29 by the Jets) were snatched off of the board just before it was Indy’s turn to pick, but something else could have been done with the selection, anything else.
After noticing that players which they targeted and others who play at the positions that they needed to fill had been taken already, the Indianapolis front office should have earnestly and diligently sought out a trade with another team. The Colts could have either traded down into the second round as well as gained additional picks in the lower rounds or even possibly gained a first round pick in the 2011 draft depending on if they had any takers who were interested. However the Indy front office decided that selecting Hughes was the best option for the franchise.
Jerry Hughes is a very solid, undersized yet speedy pass rusher with a non-stop motor just as the Colts like to use in their defensive scheme, but was he worth the selection? Just last season the Colts selected running back Donald Brown with the 27th overall selection in the first even though they picked Joseph Addai just three years prior in the opening round of the ’06 draft. This proves that when the Colts front office locks in on a guy they stick with their gut and don’t switch up their thought process as the draft plays out. Sometimes it works and other times it doesn’t, and until the season begins the jury will be out on Hughes.
Hughes could fill in nicely as a pass rushing outside linebacker in certain situations and in others spell Mathis and Freeny when they need to catch a breather, but I don’t see him starting and making any huge impact during his rookie campaign. Overall I feel it was a bad decision to select Hughes because they truly didn’t need another pass rusher. They needed someone else to aid them in stopping the run, something that has been the Achilles heel of this defense for several years now. He was a two-time All-American (2008 and 2009) while at TCU, but he just wasn’t what Indy truly needed in the first round of this draft.
Only time will tell if the Colts made the right decision and even though I am ripping them now for this selection, generally Jim Irsay and Bill Polian get it right when it comes to drafting players. I truly can’t remember the last player that they drafted and it didn’t pan out. In fact over the past 12 years (since the 1998 draft) the Colts have drafted the more future Pro Bowlers than any other franchise in the NFL. Jerry Hughes may work out eventually but for now this has bad draft pick written all over it.