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03/08/2013

Jerry Hughes & TCU's defensive end issues in the NFL

Hughes_JerryFORT WORTH, Texas - Since Gary Patterson was the TCU defensive coordinator his defenses have routinely produce quality defensive ends.

Jerry Hughes, Chase Ortiz, Braylon Broughton, Tommy Blake, Wayne Daniels, Bo Schobel, Robert Pollard, Aaron Schobel, and now Stansly Maponga and sophomore Devonte Fields.

These men produced lots of sacks, forced fumbles, and were All Americans, All Conference picks, etc. What else do all of these guys have in common? With the exception of Aaron Schobel, none of their college success translated up. They were all too short.

On Thursday at TCU Pro Day, Hughes watched Maponga and a handful of other hopefuls run through the myriad of drills in front of the many scouts and the three NFL assistant coaches who attended. 

Hughes was a first round pick of the Indianapolis Colts in 2010; the team thought he could be one of those smaller, but quick, defensive ends like Dwight Freeney or Robert Mathis and eventually replace one. Those two may have been the quickest defensive ends in the league in their prime.

It wasn't until last offseason when the team moved Hughes to outside linebacker did he begin to produce.

"I am very grateful (Colts owner Robert) Irsay selected me in the first round," Hughes told me Thursday. "But when I first got there I wasn't sure what they wanted. I really never did get a straight answer. ... This past season went well. I think I adjusted pretty well and I'm getting more comfortable at linebacker and playing in space."

Hughes should always have been an outside linebacker in the NFL. In '12, he played in 16 games and finished with 41 tackles and a career-best four sacks. Hughes may never be a star, but he can be pretty good and have an NFL job.

Maponga is about the same height and weight as Hughes, and he should be converted into an OLB. That's what Pittsburgh Steelers scout and former LB Joe Greene told Charean Williams of the Star-Telegram.

Here is a look at some of the big name TCU defensive linemen in the past decade or so, and how they fared after college.

T1_blakeJerry Hughes 6-2, 254. 1st rd pick of Colts in '10. Now an OLB.
Chase Ortiz 6-2, 255. Never made it out of preseason.
Braylon Broughton, 6-6, 272. Currently with Saints. Keeps getting looks because he is so big.
Tommy Blake, 6-3, 252. Never made it. Such a sad story of what should have been.
Aaron Schobel, 6-4, 243. The very best; 78 sacks in nine NFL seasons.
Wayne Daniels, 6-2, 250. Never made it.
Bo Schobel, 6-5, 264. Played 29 NFL games for three NFL teams from '04-'07.
Robert Pollard, 6-2, 261. Played for two teams in three NFL seasons.

These guys were all very good on defenses that thrived in Conference USA or the Mountain West. 

In the Big 12, Patterson is going to need bigger bodies, such as sophomore-to be Devonte Fields (6-4, 240), and as a result more of these guys should have a bit more luck sticking in the pros.

Twitter @MacEngelProf
tengel@star-telegram.com
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Comments

hater-ade, purple passion

All you idiots in in TCU hater land need to get a clue. This guy has game and has NFL written all over him. He probably won't be a star but how many guys are. He has a serious motor, is a little undersized, and has a staggering work ethic. He will make a squad in the show next year. How long he sticks is impossible to say. So much of a guy like this staying is the system he is in, injuries, and who is playing around him. He is a good dude. All you haters and doubters need to shut up and wish him well. He came, he did great, and now it's time to wish him well.

Karl Landson @ TCU

Jerry is under sized but he has a strong worth ethic, saw some good competition at TCU; he has a shot. Good luck to him

Clark in Mount Enterprise Texas

Your article is perfect. It says it all. Why didn't Patterson show him the cold hard facts. The likely hood of him making it are slim at best. He'll probably get a couple hundred grand and be done. I wish I thought he was going to make it but the odds are pretty well stacked against him. He should have stayed, WORKED THE ALUMNI FOR WORK, stayed true to his school for another year, gone to the NFL, washed out, then come back to work the Alumni some more. TCU grads are there for TCU grads. He really diminishes his shine by leaving early. If TCU wins big next year he will be forgotten.

kelly, freshman at TCU (2017)

The guy is a traitor stiff. I'm glad he is gone. Cya. We don't need ya.

joe in pecos, texas

We should could use his game here in Fort Worth next season. He is a great guy and a really good player. I'll be rooting for him next year where ever he lands. I hope he makes it big at the next level.

Go Frogs! class of 2014

I love TCU. It's difficult seeing guys like this move on. I would have loved to have graduated with this guy. We are going to need him next season. He was a rare breed of size, speed, and character. Let's hope he makes it at the next level. He spilled a lot of blood and guts for us here in Fort Worth.

jordan23classof06

No way Hughes makes it in the pros. No way. He has great heart and is a good college player but he just doesn't have the size to make it in the pros. I can see him getting on a squad for a year or two but past that he will pushed out of the way for the next big dude coming thru on draft day. If there is even a prayer he makes it; it will have to start with him getting on a "program" like so many guys do. He is a good kid but I don't see the NFL in his future.

Will

Good call jordan, Hughes is going into his 4th year with the Colts. Get a clue.

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