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5 Days to the Draft: TCU OLB/DE, Jerry Hughes

With the Draft fast approaching, it's time to start looking at some potential players for the Patriots. I'm going to put profiles of 2 players a day- one offense, one defensive- and gain a better understanding of the players in the draft.

Michigan's Brandon Graham. Texas's Sergio Kindle. Penn State's Jared Odrick. Three players who have been mocked to the Patriots time and time again. Maybe it's time to add another name. TCU's Jerry Hughes. Hughes is one inch of height away from possessing the ideal Patriots OLB size, but more than makes up for it with a high motor and relentless pursuit. He has the general athleticism required to be a top 3-4 OLB and could step in and push Tully Banta-Cain for the starting OLB role. His college productivity was through the roof and he makes a living making plays. His potential, in my opinion, is second only to Brandon Graham- and Hughes could be drafted later in the draft. If Hughes is on the board, should the Patriots take him?

His measurements and some quotes after the jump. Scouting

Height: 6-2. Weight: 254.
Projected 40 Time: 4.64.
Combine 40 Time: 4.59.
Benchx225: 26.

Player Comparison: Robert Mathis. Mathis is an undersized pass rusher who plays with amazing effort, but is a liability against the run.

Click the link for a more in-depth player review! Scouting

03/08/2010 - Over the last 12 years, the last 10 as head coach, Texas Christian's Gary Patterson has built dominant defense after dominant defense, but it has been nine years since a truly elite defender (Aaron Schobel) has emerged from his program. Jerry Hughes could be next. In a draft loaded with the edge-rushing "conversion'' types, the Horned Frog All-American and two-time Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year found a way to distinguish himself at the combine, posting a 4.58 in the 40-yard dash at 6 feet 2 inches and 255 pounds. Where Schobel was Patterson's first Pro Bowler, Hughes could be the program's first first-round pick since LaDainian Tomlinson, a point of pride for the 21-year-old. "When you're from TCU, that's considered nothing compared to Texas or Oklahoma,'' Hughes said. "You play with that chip on your shoulder, that's what we do as Horned Frogs. We've built a tradition of pushing to work harder. "You get tired of hearing you're not as good, when you know you can be right there, just as athletic, fast, and strong as guys at other schools, and with more drive.'' The question Hughes had to answer the most in Indianapolis was the predictable one: Are you a 3-4 rush linebacker or a 4-3 end? And he'll provide the stock answer: That's for the team that drafts him to decide. "I have to say I'm more prepared to play in a 4-3, because I had my hand on the ground for four years in college,'' Hughes said. "But I can do both. I know I'm athletic enough to drop and do what the coaches need me to do.'' Hughes, in a way, is the prototypical Patterson player. - Albert R. Breer, The Boston Globe Scouting

Hughes is a defensive end that has been the most disruptive defender for the Horned Frogs over the past two years. He is a tweener (size and athleticism) at the next level and may fit as an undersized end in a 4-3 scheme or an inexperienced outside backer in an odd front. Hughes is best attacking the line of scrimmage rushing the passer or penetrating to disrupt the run. He uses his hands well to control blockers on the edge. He also shows an expansive pass rush package. Hughes has dropped in zone coverage at times but is most comfortable with his hand on the ground. He is a solid tackler in the open field utilizing great balance and body positioning. Regardless of where Hughes aligns at the next level he should contribute as a rookie due to his instincts, toughness, athleticism and energy.

Click the link for a more in-depth player review!

Verdict: If Hughes is around at #22 overall, and Odrick, Graham and Kindle are all taken (which doesn't seem out of the question these days), then we should absolutely select Hughes. I believe that we have had Derrick Burgess on hold for a while in case we don't get the pass rushing OLB that we want- taking Hughes would allow us to cut ties with Burgess and move on. Hughes is most likely going to be an end of the 1st round draft pick, so perhaps trading down with a team might give us the most value. However, I could see us making the aggressive move and selecting Hughes, if he's the best player on the board, at #22.