6’2, 248 pounds | Outside linebacker/Defensive end | Texas Christian
Pass rush: Plays two yards deep outside. Very good footwork. Properly adjusts his feet to get around the corner quickly. Pass rush moves are ordinary. Mostly a speed rusher. Never really showed consistently that he was comfortable with his spin move.
Pursuit: The effort Hughes displays is outstanding. He’s a very aggressive player who always plays until the whistle. Has good speed in pursuit. Lateral movement is solid.
Quickness/Explosion: Good first step off the snap. With his hand down, Hughes has as good of a burst off the snap as any pass rusher in the nation. Easily fires past linemen who don’t quickly get into position.
Run defend: At defensive end, Hughes really struggled at times against the run. Tackles could easily lock him up and shut him down. Did a much better job against tight ends and fullbacks, where he could use leverage and disengage. Can be fooled by fakes and misdirection plays.
Size: Has ideal size for a 3-4 outside linebacker but would be considered slightly undersized as an end. Looks to have long arms and is high cut. Not especially tight skinned.
Strength/Ability to shed blocks: Has good functional playing strength for a linebacker. If he wants to stay at end, Hughes will have to get much stronger. He struggles to get of blocks and can be engulfed by linemen.
Tackling: A very good, aggressive tackler. Uses his length nicely as a tackler. Showed he has a nose for the ball by forcing eight fumbles over his final two seasons.
Technique: Stays low to the ground coming around the corner. Shows a good rip move. Needs to use his hands better to stack and shed.
Versatility: Played defensive end exclusively for his first three years. During his senior year, Hughes would often take his hand off the ground and play more of a traditional linebacker. A good 3-4 outside linebacker option who may not be able to play anything else.
Final word: As a pass rusher, Hughes is very good. But he’ll need to do a better job against the run and learn how to drop into coverage. He shows a solid first step, which helped him lead the nation in sacks in 2008. He shows above average lateral quickness, but needs to learn how to shed blocks better.
He’ll be a good value pick for a 3-4 team in the second round.