Rush Linebacker/Defensive End
40 time: 4.59
Draft board overall prospect rank: #28
Draft board rush linebacker rank: #3
Overall rating: 83*
1/21/10: 26 sacks in the last 2 years for TCU for a guy just learning the defensive end position, after playing running back for most of his football career, is amazing, but he may be maxed out bulk wise at 257 pounds and he doesn’t have ideal height at 6-2. He’s a better fit as a rush linebacker, but he can play on the line some, though he’d be a liability against the run. He has a great motor and has shown plasticity and ability to learn new positions in the past. He also has good hands because he’s played on the offensive side of the ball before, but I’m not sure about his ability in pass coverage.
10/3/09: Jerry Hughes is a former running back who has put on muscle and switched to the defense side of the ball to play defensive end. Hughes learned the position quickly, winning conference defensive player of the year with 14.5 sacks in his first year as a full time starter in 2008. He was able to put on the muscle without losing his quickness from playing running back. He is one of the fastest defensive lineman in college football and could run a 40 in the 4.5s. He’s extremely athletic and explosive as well. Because he played on the offensive side of the ball for awhile, he has good hands and caught two picks last year as a defensive end, something you rarely see. He has good hands and can drop back in pass coverage which is huge for him. He will likely have to play 3-4 rush linebacker in the pros, because he simply isn’t big enough to play in the trenches in the NFL. A lot of defensive ends who transition from end to linebacker have to work awhile in pass coverage, but Hughes won’t have to as much. He can keep up with tight ends and running backs out of the backfield and can make some plays on the ball. He isn’t the ideal 6-3, 6-4 height you’d like out of your pass rusher, but 6-2 isn’t bad. It will be a minor disadvantage, one that will be minimized by his placement at rush linebacker. If a 4-3 team drafts him and tries to play him on the line, he could still be a decent pass rusher, if he uses his speed to get around big guys, but he’ll be blocked backwards far too often which will hurt a team’s run defense. In addition to his great initial burst he has good chase speed and good closing speed and chases down running backs in the open field well. He plays with great intensity on the field and doesn’t take plays off. He breaks through countless double and triple teams with ease. He needs to develop a bigger arsenal of pass rush moves and his stats may be plumped a little by the fact that he plays in a weaker conference, though the MWC is not much worse than any of the BCS conferences. At this point he is a one year wonder and doesn’t have a lot of experience so he’ll have to continue his dominance throughout the 2009 season to make it in the first round. If he gets drafted by a 3-4 team who puts him at linebacker, he could be a future Pro-Bowler, but he could also be a guy who is doesn’t make it and it just written off as another undersized speed rusher without a big arsenal of moves.
NFL Comparison: Joey Porter
*=For a breakdown of what this means, click here