Two days removed from the end of the 2013 National Football League draft. the Indianapolis Colts’ roster shakeup continued on Monday.
In a move that didn’t come as too much of a great surprise, the Colts decided to part ways with defensive end/outside linebacker Jerry Hughes by trading the team’s 2010 first-round draft pick to the Buffalo Bills.
In exchange for Hughes, who has been something of an enigma the past three seasons, Indianapolis picked up middle linebacker Kelvin Sheppard. The 6-foot-2, 244-pound Sheppard was a third-round pick by the Bills in 2011.
“We wish nothing but the best for Jerry in Buffalo,” Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said in a prepared statement. “He’s a talented guy that did everything we asked of him. At the same time, we are very pleased to be getting a young linebacker who has been a productive starter in this league.”
Hughes was drafted with the idea that he would be the eventual replacement, or at least become a quality back-up, for Pro Bowl defensive end Dwight Freeney.
An All-America selection at Texas Christian, Hughes never quite lived up to the high expectations of the fans and, more importantly, of the past two administrations (Bill Polian and Grigson) and head coaches (Jim Caldwell and Chuck Pagano).
In three seasons with the Colts, he registered 61 tackles (44 solo), with five sacks and one pass broken up. His first two years in the league, Hughes struggled both as a pass rusher out of Indianapolis’ base 4-3 defensive package and on kick coverage units.
Last season, with the Colts moving to Pagano’s 3-4 hybrid scheme, the general feeling was that he would be more comfortable in the system — which was somewhat similar to the defensive alignment he played in college — and have more success.
While Hughes displayed some flashes of his pass-rushing skills that had originally caught the eye of Polian and his player personnel department, he failed to win a full-time starters role heading into the 2013 season.
Indianapolis added outside linebacker Erik Walden from Green Bay through free agency last month and then drafted former Florida State defensive end/outside linebacker Bjoern Werner in the first round of this year’s draft.
As for the player picked up in exchange for Hughes, Sheppard has totaled 138 tackles (95 solo), 2.0 sacks, two passes broken up and one fumble recovery in 32 career games with Buffalo. He has started 24 games over the last two seasons.
A three-year starter at LSU, Sheppard completed his collegiate career ranked ninth in school history with 311 tackles. He posted 100-plus tackle campaigns in both his junior and senior seasons. In 2010, Sheppard was voted an All-SEC first-team selection after compiling 116 stops, which ranked third in the conference.
Williams glad to be coming to Indianapolis — Former Utah State running back Kerwynn Williams just can’t seem to get away from Mike Sanford.
Williams grew up in Las Vegas, where the current Indiana State head coach was in charge of the Rebels’ football program. Last year, Sanford became the running backs coach for the Aggies. Now, by being drafted by the Colts, the speedy Williams is a relatively short drive away from his former position coach.
“I know. It’ll definitely be crazy him being so close. We have a deeper history than most people know. He was actually coaching at UNLV when I was in high school. I’ve known Coach Sanford for a long time, so it’s crazy that we are kind of ending up in the same spots,” he said.
I’m definitely excited to get up there. I’m at a loss for words. I’m just excited. It’s a dream come true to come [to Indianapolis] and be able to play for such a storied organization. You know I’m definitely excited about that.”
The Colts coaching staff is glad to get him.
“Chuck and I both loved his tape. He’s another guy that’s fast, extremely quick and elusive. He brings a wrinkle to this team that could really help us and that’s as a returner. Our special teams coaches had him rated as one of the best returners in this draft and that got our attention,” Grigson said.
“We studied him and we had scouts going to Utah State and were at his work out. He’s a great kid. He’s exciting to watch as a runner and as a returner. He’s got a lot going for him. We were a little bit surprised he was there. We’re happy to get him because he fills a tremendous need and he’s also got some real value on third down.”
Pagano can’t wait to get him on the field.
“[Williams]had I think 130-something returns. Next closest guy that we evaluated was at like 90. And he averaged over 25 yards per kickoff return,” the Colts coach said.
“Again, we saw last game of the year what a kickoff return can do for you in the Houston game. It turned that whole thing around and blew that thing open when Deji [Karim] returned that and this kid can do that all day.”
Free agent additions — Former Indiana State defensive end/outside linebacker Ben Obeseki accepted an invitation from the Green Bay Packers to try out for the team during their rookie mini-camp.
Another ex-Sycamore, defensive tackle Jordan Bright, was offered a chance to a chance to try out for the Colts. He will also take part in the team’s rookie mini-camp, which is set to begin next week.
Inside linebacker Aaron Archie has been contacted by an undisclosed NFL team for a possible try out situation.