One of the biggest disappointments for the Indianapolis Colts the last few years has been the development of linebacker Jerry Hughes. The Colts drafted Hughes in the first round of the 2010 draft and hoped he could be the next Dwight Freeney or Robert Mathis.
At TCU he was a hybrid outside linebacker and defensive end. He thrived in that spot as he led the nation in sacks as a junior with 15. He was the Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year and a First-Team All-American.
Hughes had 54 tackles and 11.5 sacks his senior year and helped lead the Horned Frogs to the top defensive unit in the nation. He had 139 tackles 39 of which for a loss and 28.5 sacks during his career at TCU.
Indianapolis hoped for the same results when they used their first round selection on him but he never panned out. They blamed the 4-3 scheme on him not being able to adapt.
When the team went 2-14 in 2011 Colts owner Jim Irsay decided it was time for a new direction. A whole new front office and coaching staff was brought in and the team changed from the 4-3 to a hybrid 3-4 like Hughes played at TCU. Everyone said this would be make or break for Hughes in ’12.
Obviously it was break.
Hughes had his best year of his career last year with finishing with 41 tackles and four sacks. Colts GM Ryan Grigson must have thought that wasn’t enough as a trade was made with the Buffalo Bills for linebacker Kelvin Sheppard.
Hughes only had 62 combined tackles and five sacks in three seasons in Indianapolis. Compare that to Sheppard who’s played one less year and has 150 tackles and two sacks.
Both are similar in size at 6-2 and weigh within 10 pounds of eachother. The Colts finally just had enough of Hughes and wanted to bring someone in who can help this unit grow.