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What they’re saying about the Minnesota Vikings selecting Mike Hughes

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It was a surprise, but what do the pundits think?

NCAA Football: South Florida at Central Florida Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The first round of the 2018 NFL Draft is officially in the books, and the Minnesota Vikings threw us all a bit of a curve ball by not addressing their need on the offensive line, but rather by taking a look into the defensive backfield instead.

The Vikings selected Central Florida cornerback Mike Hughes with the 30th overall pick in the first round, and it’s certainly a pick that I didn’t see coming. Hughes was highly ranked by many coming into the first round of the draft, but I think a lot of people expected the Vikings to go after an offensive linemen, and there were several pretty good ones still left on the board when the Vikings selected.

Let’s take a quick spin around the internet and see what draft pundits are saying about the selection.

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: B

Hughes has outstanding cover skills and we know how much Mike Zimmer likes his corners. It’s a quality pick.

Walter Cherepinsky, Walter Football: A

Mike Hughes would have gone earlier than this if he didn’t have some off-the-field incidents, but those aren’t considered a big deal amongst teams. With that in mind, I think this is a terrific selection. Hughes is extremely talented, and he’ll provide a big upgrade over Terence Newman in the slot. The Vikings’ secondary was torched in the NFC Championship, and Hughes will help make sure that won’t happen again.

As an added bonus, Hughes will strengthen Minnesota’s return game. The Vikings needed help in this regard, and Hughes will be a dynamic threat as a return specialist.

Mike Tanier, Bleacher Report: C+

Apparently, the end of the first round is all about great defensive teams getting better on defense while ignoring their offensive issues. First, the Jaguars added a defensive tackle to cut the time opposing quarterbacks have to throw from 0.0004 to 0.0003 seconds. Now the Vikings—whose offensive line is really spotty—are setting themselves up with even more secondary depth.

Mike Hughes is a tough, alert underneath defender who gets a quick break on the ball. He’s dynamic with the football in his hands. He lacks ideal size but compensates with toughness and quick feet.

Hughes transferred from North Carolina to a JUCO to Central Florida amid a sexual assault allegation, which only became public one week before the draft. No charges were filed, and Hughes has been forthright with teams. He was suspended for an unrelated incident in 2015.

Assuming Hughes has put character concerns behind him, he’s a potential starter as an underneath defender and could be a weapon on punt returns. Not a bad pick for the Vikings, but they may end up regretting it the first time Kirk Cousins gets hurried into an interception.

Mike Mayock, NFL.com

I like it a lot. They’ve already got Trae Waynes at one corner, Xavier Rhodes at the other, but the nickel Mackensie Alexander has not played great football and I think this kid can come in and play Day One. He’s a heck of a competitor.

SI.com: B-

Mike Zimmer has never had a problem with drafting corners in the first round and developing them from the bench for a year or two—just ask Trae Waynes, who now might not be signed long-term. (It was recently reported the Vikings will pick up Waynes’s $9-million fifth year in 2019. That could still happen, but now it’s not mandatory.) Hughes will be asked to play aggressive matchup zone coverage outside in Minnesota’s sturdy two-deep safety scheme.

Scouting Report: Hughes left North Carolina after his freshman season after earning a suspension for violating team rules and spent a year in junior college before emerging as a star at UCF. He’s quick, fast and competitive, playing with a physical edge despite being on the smaller side. He can be overaggressive and needs to become more consistent, but the potential to become a No. 1 corner is there. He also offers value as a punt returner.

Danny Kelly, The Ringer: A+ Fit/A- Value

The Vikings have such a deep roster that they could’ve gone in just about any direction here. Taking Hughes makes what’s already a talented secondary even better. Due to legal issues, Hughes left the University of North Carolina for Garden City Community College before eventually ending up at UCF. The athletic defensive back surrendered a measly 35.5 passer rating in coverage with four picks and 11 pass breakups for UCF in 2017.

Yahoo! Sports: C

Minnesota needed a lineman to protect its new investment (Kirk Cousins) and passed on a good one in Will Hernandez. Hughes is a fine pick but the Vikings didn’t need much.

We’ll add more to this as more grades and analysis become available.