Speed off the edge is vital in the Colts' defense.
Dwight Freeney is 30 and Robert Mathis is 29. They are still Pro Bowl caliber players, but there was no next generation behind them. A limited Freeney had a big sack in the Super Bowl, but he didn’t last at full speed the whole game because of an ankle injury, and the Colts ultimately suffered.
With the selection of TCU’s Jerry Hughes 31st overall in the first round, there is now new depth.
Hughes is a speed, edge rusher in the mold of Freeney and Mathis, a player who got in the backfield and disrupted offenses in college and projects to do the same for the Colts.
He’s not going to bounce inside and eat up snaps all over the line as Raheem Brock, let go after the season, did. But the Colts look to be three deep at end and have an eventual successor to one of their stalwarts in hand.
In his last 26 games at TCU, Hughes recorded 26.5 sacks. Those numbers are as impressive as any I’ve read about any of the first-round choices in the AFC South.
The pick addresses a need, but leaves another lingering. The Colts are likely to consider an offensive lineman at No. 63 overall on Friday. Rodger Saffold is rated by many as an ideal fit for what they do.
Might he last? Might they make a move to go get him? And can he or a lineman selected in the second, if that’s the way Bill Polian goes, break through in a way two recent second-rounders on the offensive line haven’t?