3.24 Indianapolis Colts Hugh Thornton, G, Illinois (6-3¼, 320)
With the twenty-fourth selection (86th overall) in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts select guard Hugh Thornton from Illinois. Thornton has the natural ability to be a consistent pass and run protector, but needs to improve on some mechanics and stop running into off-field troubles. The first thing that jumps off the reports about Thornton is the fact that he is tough and aggressive in his play. He plays through the whistle and has shown the ability to go to the second level of the defense to punish the linebackers. He finishes his blocks well and helps out in double teams when necessary. In pass protection, Thornton has the ability to use his quickness to maintain leverage against his defender. He has the strength to hold his own on the inside and to knock rushers off of their lines. He needs to work on his footwork in order to keep the correct angles and not get caught flat footed on setup moves from defenders. The same things pop up on his run blocking. He has the quickness to pull and to block on the second level. But, his footwork holds him back as he can take too many wrong steps and that leads to him being out of position. His awareness needs to be improved as well. Thornton commits to defenders too early and his gap is left vulnerable to delayed blitzes or stunts. Off-the-field, he needs to stay out of trouble with the law.
With the inconsistent play on the offensive line a year ago, the Colts needed to add more depth to help with the development of Andrew Luck. Thornton’s weaknesses are very fixable with some hard work and film study. I see Thornton growing into a serviceable offensive lineman in a few seasons due to his on-field work ethic and toughness in the trenches.