The Buffalo Bills traded middle linebacker Kelvin Sheppard to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for outside linebacker Jerry Hughes today. Hughes was selected with the No. 31 overall pick in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft, but didn’t see much playing time in his first two seasons.
Hughes was a bit undersized for the defensive end position and was stuck behind Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis on the depth chart, which is why he only managed to play 256 snaps in his first two seasons.
In 2012, the Colts transitioned to a 3-4 defense under their new head coach Chuck Pagano and Hughes made an impact at his more natural position as an outside linebacker, appearing in all 16 games while making six starts. Hughes racked up 42 tackles and four sacks, despite playing only 55.1% of the Colts’ defensive snaps.
Hughes is solid in coverage, grading out as ProFootballFocus’ sixth best 3-4 outside linebacker in that department after allowing just eight receptions and ranked 11th overall as a pass rusher, generating 27 quarterback pressures on 225 pass rush attempts.
The Bills moving Sheppard didn’t come as much of a surprise, as the team selected inside linebacker Kiko Alonso in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft, along with hosting free agent Karlos Dansby last week.
However, defensive coordinator Mike Pettine now has yet another pass rush specialist to play with along with Mario Williams, Manny Lawson, Mark Anderson and Arthur Moats at the outside linebacker position.
This is just another player acquisition that shows that Pettine will be utilizing primarily a 3-4 defensive front, and an aggressive one.