After trading down from the 67th overall pick (trading with the Denver Broncos for the 87th and 120th picks), the Cleveland Browns ended their run of offensive-minded selections and drafted defensive tackle John Hughes out of the University of Cincinnati in the third round of the 2012 NFL draft.
To say it was a surprising pick is a bit of an understatement. According to NFL.com, Hughes (6-2, 309 pounds) was considered to be a late-round pick, or even a potential undrafted free agent. While he is known as a “gap-filler” and “displays good technique,” there are a number of weaknesses listed as well.
Hughes has numerous issues in his play that, if not fixed early, could severely limit his pro prospects. He seems lazy at times and rarely chases plays down on the perimeter. As a run defender, he is capable of getting through blocks but often looks shell-shocked once he gets in the backfield. He needs to finish with more force; at times Hughes would be neutralized by offensive linemen because of his poor effort and pad placement.
Regardless of what some pundits think, this is purely a depth pick for the Browns. While Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin are solid anchors on the defensive line, its important to keep in mind that those two can’t be on the field at all times. When Scott Paxson, Brian Schaefering, and Brian Sanford are backing up Taylor and Rubin, it’s obvious that some depth is needed.