Jerry Hughes

Training Camp Preview: Colts

Biggest Question Mark: Charlie Johnson
Johnson took over for Tony Ugoh at left tackle last season, but was only a marginal upgrade. While the Colts sack numbers remained at the bottom of the league, the fact remains they have one of the worst left tackles among the serious contenders. Peyton Manning has a unique sixth sense in the pocket,  and releases the ball in time to avoid sacks, but improved play from Johnson would dramatically improve the firepower of the Colts passing attack.

INDIANAPOLIS - NOVEMBER 02:  Anthony Gonzalez #11 of the Indianapolis Colts stands at the line of scrimmage against the New England Patriots at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 2, 2008 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Can Gonzalez regain his position in the starting lineup?

Position Battle to Watch: Wide Receiver
Reggie Wayne is number one, but who’s two, three and four? Anthony Gonzalez hopes to return fully healthy and regain his spot as the second option, but Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon gained valuable experience last year in his absence. It should be an open competition between the three, which could last all season as the battle for Manning’s attention.

Impact Rookie: Jerry Hughes
The Colts are unlikely to have a rookie in the starting lineup, but Hughes should see a good deal of playing time. He’ll rotate in with Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis at defensive end, primarily on passing downs. He’ll be utilized almost exclusively as a pass rusher and could generate serious defensive rookie of the year consideration.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Colts Comments Off

2010 Draft Grades: Colts

Simply put, I expect more from the Colts. They’ve been an elite franchise for a full decade now, and while Peyton Manning deserves a lot of credit for that, Bill Polian has been a key piece of that puzzle as well. But if this draft is any indication, the Colts are quickly headed in the wrong direction.

Jerry Hughes definitely had value in the late 1st round, so I can’t argue with the pick too much, but the Colts had other needs. Hughes will only be a backup to Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis early in his career. In time, he could certainly prove to be worth a late-1st-round pick, but I don’t see him playing a significant role in helping them win another Super Bowl in the next 2-3 years. At least not as long as Freeney and Mathis are around.

In the 2nd round the Colts reached way off the board for Pat Angerer. I love the way he plays the game, but he’s simply not a 2nd-round pick. To make matters worse, he doesn’t fill a need. He’ll likely begin his career on special teams and as a backup to Gary Brackett.

Kevin Thomas finally filled a need, but the Colts didn’t need another a mid-round cornerback on the roster. He’ll add to their depth, but ultimately he’ll just blend in with the mediocre play of Jacob Lacey, Jerraud Powers and Kelvin Hayden.

If Thomas and Angerer were reaches, I’m not sure what to call the selection of Jacques McClendon. They really didn’t need to add depth on the offensive line. What they needed was an upgrade at one or more of the positions on the line. McClendon won’t provide that; at least not immediately.

Brody Eldridge was yet another terrible reach. I wasn’t surprised to see them select a tight end, but there were plenty of others that would have been a better fit. They have a solid one-two punch with Clark (the pass-catcher) and Santi (the blocker). Eldrige will have a hard time making the roster. Even Gijon Robinson and Jacob Tamme have a leg up on him right now.

The Colts needed a defensive tackle, but they needed an upgrade, not more depth. Ricardo Mathews will struggle to earn playing time behind backups Fili Moala and Eric Foster, let alone starters Antonio Johnson and Daniel Muir.

Kavell Conner is vastly undersized, but he was productive in college. He’ll likely be given a chance to compete for playing time at strong-side linebacker. Its one of the weakest positions on the Colts defense, so he just may earn a roster spot. That said, this was a position that needed to be addressed earlier in the draft.

I think Ray Fisher was a great 7th-round pick. He’ll be buried on the cornerback depth chart, but he’s an explosive return specialist. He may turn out to be the only Colts rookie to make a significant impact as a rookie.

Overall, this was a very disappointing draft for the Colts. Even if some of their picks turn into quality players down the road, they needed to add some immediate help. The window of opportunity to win another Super Bowl with Peyton Manning is closing fast. He’s 34 years old and Colts should have done more to surround him with players that can help them win immediately. The offensive line struggled in the Super Bowl and was a weakness all season long. They should have added more than Jacques McClendon to help fix that issue. Additionally, they could have used an early-round cornerback or strong-side linebacker. If i didn’t like Jerry Hughes as much as I do, this draft would deserve a failing grade.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Colts, Draft Grades - 2010 4 Comments

10 Bold Predictions for the NFL Draft

10. The Raiders will be criticized for their 1st-round pick
Ok, so maybe this isn’t quite a bold prediction. No one has any idea who the Raiders are going to draft, but I can all but guarantee it will be a reach.

9. C.J. Spiller will be a top-10 pick
And he can thank Chris Johnson for paving the way. The NFL is a copycat league and now everyone wants to the next Johnson. Spiller is an option for the Browns, Raiders and Jaguars. Someone such as the 49ers may also try to trade up for him.

8. Two TCU players will be drafted in the 1st round
Jerry Hughes is all but locked into the 1st round, but his teammate Daryl Washington could join him. He’s a perfect fit for the Colts and Saints and could sneak into the late 1st round. It would be the first time since 1939 that two Horned Frogs went in the 1st round.

7. Bruce Campbell will fall to the 2nd round
Al Davis will consider him with the 8th pick, but he’ll pass. And so will everyone else. Someone will eventually scoop up the most overrated draft prospect to come along in years in the early-to-mid 2nd round.

6. Pete Carroll will reach for someone from USC
Taylor Mays? Everson Griffen? Both could be options for the Seahawks in the 1st round. He may even be tempted to reach for someone like Jeff Byers later on. College coaches are always blinded by familiarity when they move to the NFL game.

5. The Cowboys will draft a WR in the 1st or 2nd round
Motivated by the Redskins acquisition of Donovan McNabb, Jerry Jones will feel the need to bolster his offense. The NFC East could feature a number of shootouts in 2010 and Jones wants to stay ahead of the curve.

4. A  Pro Bowler will be traded
Ronnie Brown? McKinnie? Umenyiora? Roethlisberger?

3. The Steelers will draft a quarterback
Not necessary in the first two rounds, but they’ll grab a signal caller at some point. Maybe Dan LeFevour in the 3rd round? Tony Pike in the 4th? John Skelton in the 5th?

2. There will be at least 5 trades in the 1st round
This could be one of the busiest 1st rounds in recent memory. With so much talent in this year’s class, teams will be motivated to move in two directions. On one hand, some great players will fall and teams will want to move up to grab them. On the other hand, as those great players fall, more good players will be available in the late 1st and early 2nd round.

1. At least 3 quarterbacks will be selected in the 1st round
We know Sam Bradford and Jimmy Clausen will be 1st round picks. But don’t be shocked when a third comes off the board in the late 1st. The Vikings could take Tim Tebow. The Bills or Browns may also trade up for Colt McCoy.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, 49ers, Bills, Browns, Colts, Cowboys, Jaguars, Raiders, Saints, Steelers, Vikings 95 Comments