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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Mike Hughes’ college coach says Vikings’ top pick can play slot corner

By Matthew Coller

Throughout the offseason and into training camp, the Minnesota Vikings will be having a battle for the starting nickel position on Mike Zimmer’s defense. The team’s top draft pick Mike Hughes is likely to be in the mix despite having rarely played in the slot during his college career.

Former University of Central Florida head coach Scott Frost – now with Nebraska – told the Twin Cities media he believes Hughes can play outside or inside.

“We didn’t play him in the slot much, we tried to match him up on the best receivers we were playing,” Frost said. “Played them into the boundary, the quarterback’s right, wherever we thought we needed to take someone away. He’s perfectly capable of playing all three corner spots if there’s three on the field and I think he’ll prove that.”

In his only season as a regular, Hughes posted tremendous numbers. When opposing quarterbacks threw in his direction, they came away with just 34 completions on 65 attempts and a 44.5 quarterback rating.

Frost said he wasn’t just wowed by Hughes’ performance, but how quickly he adapted to new circumstances after leaving North Carolina because of off-field incidents.

“We didn’t get Mike until about a week and a half after camp had started,” Frost said. “So, we were really close to our first game. I was really impressed with his ability, not just to come in and learn it, which was exceptional for him to be able to learn it that fast to get on the field, but also his ability to come in and integrate himself with the team, become part of the team, become endeared by his teammates. I think he is a guy that will learn it quick and fit in really fast.”

The Vikings’ new corner has the right combination of size, strength, quickness and physical play to slide into a nickel role. At 5-foot-10, he is one inch taller than former slot corner Captain Munnerlyn. At the Combine, Hughes was a top performer at his position with 20 reps. Munnerlyn did 19 in 2009.

“They’re exciting to watch and I think one of the most physical teams in the country on that side of the ball. Mike’s not just a cover corner,” Frost said. “He’s a guy that will come up and hit and I think he’ll really embrace playing around bunch of other guys with that kind of attitude.”

Hughes will not be handed the job. In last year’s camp, Mackensie Alexander battled for the job, but it was ultimately given to Terence Newman. Alexander will be vying for more playing time this year and Newman is returning for his 16th NFL season.

The post Mike Hughes’ college coach says Vikings’ top pick can play slot corner appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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