Jerry Hughes, OLB, Texas Christian

Scouting reports of outside and inside linebackers in the 2010 draft.
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Jerry Hughes, OLB, Texas Christian

Postby Pudge » Thu Feb 25, 2010 5:30 pm

JERRY HUGHES
6-2/257
Texas Christian Senior

PROS: Has good speed and a nice motor. Has excellent closing burst and does a good job in pursuit. Has a dangerous first step off the edge and usually beats every tackle he faces to the corner. Has experience working with his hand off the ground and dropping back into coverage. Is an athletic guy that shows potential to play in space. Passionate player that gives good effort. Shows potential as a bull rusher and flashes a developmental spin move.
CONS: Needs to improve his recognition and gets caught out of position too much vs. the run when he's playing in space. Not really a great run defender at the point of attack. Gets engulfed by blockers. Needs to improve his tackling and do a better job wrapping up. Doesn't like contact and prefers to run around blockers. Too easily chipped by backs and tight ends and not effective when double teamed. Needs to improve his hand use and shoulder dip when he's trying to turn the corner as an edge rusher. Doesn't have the hips, footwork, or natural feel for coverage yet. Needs to develop more pass rush moves, and overly relies on his edge speed and first step to win most battles.
OVERVIEW: Hughes is a pure pass rusher that has the speed and burst to be a dangerous player at the next level. But he's undersized to play on the line and needs to develop more polish to work in space.
NFL FORECAST: He's best fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker. But he could develop into a decent hybrid end/linebacker in a 4-3 in the same mold as Brian Orakpo. But he's not a natural player in space, and probably won't impact as a run defender or coverage guy early on in his career. The scheme he'd work best in is a 3-4 scheme where he's used like DeMarcus Ware, which is predominantly as a pass rusher, and the other linebacker's job is to play the run and work in coverage. He's a dangerous pass rusher, but if he wants to relaly take his game to another level, he'll have to improve his technique. While he's a strong player that will flash hitting ability and passion, he tends to play like a finesse guy. He'll be a difficult matchup, but I think there will be too many times when he'll go up against quality left tackles and get shut down, and chipping him was way more effective than I would like. But the sky is the limit with him, and how quickly he can impact I think will depend largely on the scheme that he is drafted into. If he is just a pass rusher in the same mold as Ware or Terrell Suggs, he can be an impact rookie. If not, and he's asked to do other things, he could be limited.
ATL FORECAST: Hughes doesn't quite fit in Atlanta. He'd make a good situational pass rusher to team opposite Abraham, but doesn't have the upside to really be more than a situational guy. Despite having better size, as a defensive end he'll be closer to Robert Mathis and Elvis Dumervil. He'll be productive, but he'll have to be hidden on run downs. So he could impact in Atlanta as a pass rusher, but he'll never be as good all-around as Abraham. He doesn't fit well at linebacker because of how raw he is in coverage and playing the run in space. If he was to develop the technique, and ability to disengage from blockers, he could be an impact pass rusher for the Falcons. But he's more Robert Mathis than Dwight Freeney.
VALUE: For a team that envisions him as a DeMarcus Ware-type, he wouldn't be a reach in the late first round. But he's a guy that should probably be only a role player initially, making him a better value in the early part of the second round.

SKILLS
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite

SPEED: 4.0
TACKLING: 3.0
COVERAGE: 2.0
POINT OF ATTACK: 2.0
INSTINCTS: 2.5
PASS RUSH: 4.5
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.

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Re: Jerry Hughes, OLB, Texas Christian

Postby Mr. Offseason » Sat Apr 17, 2010 9:49 pm

Pros: Great quickness off the ball and great edge speed. He is a fluid athlete and projects well to the 3-4 OLB position, especially as a pass rusher. He can get the edge whenever he wants, and he is terrific at recognizing when the offensive lineman is opening his hips too early and does a great job of ripping or countering inside to pressure the quarterback. He shows good flexibility and ability to dip under the offensive lineman’s pads or block to seal the edge and get after the quarterback. He also has a knack for forcing fumbles when he comes off the edge and has some pop as a hitter when he can gain some momentum before he hits the ballcarrier. He is good at breaking down in space and wrapping up the ballcarrier. He flashes the ability to bull rush and to use his leverage in the run game, and does a great job of keeping contain and collapsing on the run inside once he reads the play. He sheds blocks well and has good hand usage as a pass rusher and even against the run at times. He also has good recognition skills for a defensive end. He has a terrific motor and is great in pursuit, and regularly catches players from behind to limit the gain on the play because of his hustle.

Cons: He is undersized for a defensive end and that is why he will probably end up playing 3-4 OLB in the NFL. He doesn’t have a lot of bulk and could stand to add strength to his lower body to help him stand up against the run better, especially when the play comes right at him. He doesn’t have a pass rush move outside of the speed rush, bull rush or an inside rip once the offensive lineman opens his hips. He has flashed a spin move a total of twice in all that I have watched him and it was effective, but it is not a polished move at all yet. He struggles to shed blocks from offensive lineman versus the run at times and doesn’t get much pressure when he twists inside. Can stand to improve his hand usage even more even though it is already good.

Overall: Hughes is one of my favorite prospects in the draft even though he is likely to be a 3-4 OLB in the NFL. He has a relentless motor, great quickness and edge speed and has a lot of potential as a pass rusher in the NFL in my opinion. He needs to get stronger so he can stand up to the run better, but his effort in pursuit versus the run and the pass will make him a productive player in the NFL. If he can work on and improve his spin move to add to his repertoire of pass rush moves in addition to a speed rush, bull rush and inside rip move he could be a very dangerous pass rusher, especially in a 3-4 defense. I think he is underrated and frankly underappreciated as a draft prospect and I think he is one guy who could very well go higher than people expect and that he could have a greater impact than some people expect once he makes it to the NFL also. I think he has Pro-Bowl potential as a 3-4 OLB.

Projection: I think the earliest he will go is #23 to the Packers, but I think that would be an ideal fit for him. If he doesn’t go there he could last until the late 1st or the early 2nd.

SKILLS
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite

SPEED: 4.0
TACKLING: 3.5
COVERAGE: 2.5
POINT OF ATTACK: 2.0
INSTINCTS: 3.5
PASS RUSH: 4.5
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