The Indianapolis Colts are aiming for better results with the same surname, working in 2013 fifth-round pick Montori Hughes at nose tackle not long after trading 2009 top pick Jerry Hughes to the Buffalo Bills. The younger Hughes reminds Colts Coach Chuck Pagano of a much more optimistic and relevant comparison.
“This guy moves like Haloti, he’s big like Haloti,” Pagano recalled fondly via The News Sentinel of Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, who Pagano coached as defensive coordinator two years ago. “He walked down the hall, they nicknamed him ‘Eclipse.’ The guy can barely fit through the door.”
Hughes may not boast the big school pedigree of Oregon alum Ngata as he came out of school from Tennessee-Martin, but Hughes had actually made the grade at Tennessee — which in the aughts has turned out the likes of defensive tackles Albert Haynesworth and John Henderson. Unfortunately, Hughes had to leave for the smaller school during his collegiate campaign, which inspired character concerns entering the draft.
Hughes will compete alongside free agent signing Aubrayo Franklin to improve a nose tackle spot in the Colts’ 3-4 defense that did not fair well in 2012, as Indy finished the year ranked dead-last in Pro Football Focus’ run defense ratings while Antonio Smith finished 80th out of 84 qualifying defensive tackles.
The NFL.com draft profile on Hughes makes him seem a fit for Indy’s defense as it finds itself in training camp.
“Hughes is a wide-body nose tackle with the agility scouts and coaches love to see. He needed a prep school detour for academic issues, which dogged him during his time in Tennessee as well before his dismissal from that program. Teams will need to see him prove his work ethic, but if he does, he could be a nice rotational piece for a 4-3 base defensive team at the next level.”