An Athletic Big Man, Who Moves “like a Cat”
Montori Hughes is a big man. 6-4, 330 pounds, or 340 according to Ryan Grigson. Perhaps it is fitting that his surname sounds just a little bit like “Huge.” No doubt his size and strength were very appealing traits when the Colts decided to a leap of faith on him.
One thing many people would not expect, especially for a third day draft pick, is that Hughes is relatively agile for such a large guy. So enamored was Ryan Grigson that he and his staff decided to trade back into the 5th round (giving up a 2014 4th round pick) and nab Hughes before anyone else could take him.
“He’s 6-4 and change, 340 pounds, and he can move like a cat,” Grigson said of Hughes. “There are just very few human beings that have that ability. In this defense and he played all three spots at Tennessee Martin. He was a big recruit at Tennessee.
“He came in here on a visit and knocked everyone’s socks off, looked everyone in the eye and just really made a great impression. His film spoke for itself. Every draft, every year since I’ve been doing this, you find very small handfuls of men and athletes that are this big and can bend and accelerate and decelerate and move laterally like this guy can.”
A Rocky Past in the Volunteer State
Hughes looked not unlike a future NFL player early on at Tennessee, but academic and maturity issues derailed his higher profile route to the NFL. He ended up finishing his college playing days at the University of Tennessee-Martin after being dismissed in 2011 by Tennessee coach Derek Dooley. .
Playing for a smaller school, he flew under the radar a bit and wasn’t early draft material because of his rocky past and lower level of competition. For a 5th rounder, however, he could prove to be a valuable addition, if, as Grigson and Pagano believe, he has matured considerably since he was jettisoned by Tennessee.
The Colts will be hoping Hughes has his head on straight and will put in the work to become a solid NFL player. Hughes believes he has learned from the whole UT to UT-Martin experience. “You know everything happens for a reason,” he said. “Just learning how to humble yourself, like I said, going to work every day, knowing that you got goals in mind, and what you want to do in life. Anything is possible if you just work hard.” This guy can pack more athlete clichés into a sentence than Peyton Manning, but he sounds sincere.
What Position is he, again?
Interestingly, Montori Hughes is not listed as a nose tackle on the Colts website, at least not yet. They are currently calling the big man a defensive tackle, which, in the hybrid 3-4 defense, is the same as a right defensive end, who lines up between the nose tackle and the right outside, or “rush” linebacker.
Hughes, of course, says doesn’t mind which spot he plays along the defensive line. “It doesn’t matter,” he said. “I feel like I can fit in at any slot across the board and I feel good in the middle, but wherever they need me, you know, go to work.”
When asked where he believes the Colts would like him to play, Hughes leaned more toward the middle of the line (a.k.a. Nose Tackle), saying, “I’m pretty sure they like me in the middle, but like I said, it’s whatever helps the team and just work hard every day and do whatever I have to to try and win a championship.”
Grigson's Low-Risk Gamble
In the late rounds of the draft, a good GM will take some gambles. The average third day draft picks doesn’t become a star, and many of them have relatively short, anonymous careers. To find the diamond in the rough – does 2003 5th rounder Robert Mathis ring a bell? – Teams have to look at small school players with good measurables, players overcoming maturity problems, or a guy who’s stats or draft stock plummeted because of an injury.
Last year, the Colts gambled on an injured player from a powerhouse school in the 5th round, taking Josh Chapman, the ever-popular former Crimson Tide Nose Tackle. This year, they cast their lot with Montori Hughes, a small school guy who is looking for a second chance after derailing his career as a teenager.
These types of calculated risks are a great way to unearth talent beyond 2-3 year depth players in rounds 4 through 7. If the player sticks and turns out to be special, it’s a good pick. If they turn out to be just a good, hard-working depth player, it’s still a good draft pick.
As always, all quotes are courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts Public Relations Department.
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