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Vikings draft prospect microscope: Central Florida CB Mike Hughes

By Matthew Coller

As we lead up to the NFL Draft here at 1500ESPN, we will take a closer look at the prospects who could end up as Minnesota Vikings. For this edition, we focus on Central Florida cornerback Mike Hughes…

Why the Vikings could draft Mike Hughes:

UCF became one of the best stories in college football this year by going undefeated. Hughes played a significant role on the undefeated Knights, picking off four passes and eliminating opposing top receivers. While he doesn’t have a great deal of experience, Hughes flashed a great deal of potential. The Vikings have recently made good on two highly-touted “project” cornerbacks in Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes. And while they will be looking for immediate help, the Vikings are always focused years down the road at corner.

What experts are saying:

NFL.com draft profile:

“Hughes simply hasn’t had the game experience he needs to put together the consistency in coverage that teams might like to see. He’s a projection-based prospect who has shown twitch, ball production and toughness in a small sample size. Despite being a little short, he is likely to stay outside in coverage. While teams wait for him to gain coverage experience, they can certainly lean on his tremendous talents as a return man. Hughes has potential, but there is still work to be done in coverage.”

CBS Sports:

“Super-charged plant-and-drive specialist with serious bounce and aggressive ball skills. Smaller framed which hurts him against blockers and bigger wideouts. Dynamic return ability showcases his physical ability.”

Pro Football Focus:

“Mike Hughes is an exceptionally talented corner who hits the NFL after one elite season at UCF. He played in 2015 for North Carolina before being suspend- ed for violating team rules. He attended community college in 2016 before transferring to UCF and starring at left corner. His grade was excellent and coverage numbers fantastic, but his play is still a little raw and there may be more development to come. Will have value early as a return man in the NFL, but may take a season or two to ful l his potential as a perimeter corner.”

What the numbers say:

Hughes’ numbers in coverage are simply fantastic. He allowed 34 catches on 65 attempts (52.3 percent) with zero touchdowns, four interceptions and a QB rating against of 35.5, according to Pro Football Focus.

Here are his PFF grades in each area:

Hughes’ size isn’t quite ideal – which may lead him to ultimately become a slot corner. He didn’t play nickel often in college but he has impressive strength and quickness that is reminiscent of former Vikings nickel corner Captain Munnerlyn.

Bottom line:

This year’s draft features a handful of talented cornerbacks who could be available toward the bottom of the first round. While the Vikings’ biggest need is along the offensive line, cornerback isn’t far behind. Hughes fits the type of mentality that the Vikings want for a cornerback and high-end skill that could be molded long term. For 2018, he could be a valuable situational player.

Watch Mike Hughes:

The post Vikings draft prospect microscope: Central Florida CB Mike Hughes appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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