Many fans of the Minnesota Vikings weren’t exactly thrilled when Rick Spielman and company eschewed drafting an offensive lineman with the 30th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, opting instead to select Central Florida cornerback Mike Hughes. However, from what the folks in Bristol have gathered, there are plenty of folks out there that seem to think the Vikings made a very good selection.
Behind the great E$PN paywall, Mike Sando has collected thoughts on each team’s draft from random, anonymous NFL team executives. The consensus about the Vikings’ selection of Hughes seems to be that he is, potentially, an elite cornerback. . .if his off-field issues are truly behind him.
It could be misleading to say the Vikings used a first-round pick for a nickel corner. Misleading because the pick was 30th overall, barely in the first round. Misleading because Mike Hughes could become the No. 2 corner behind Xavier Rhodes as early as 2019. Misleading because nickel corners are much more valuable now than in the NFL’s fading two-receiver past.
”You gotta be pretty good to draft a first-round nickel or just be completely putting on your bib and feasting hoggishly at the defensive buffet, and that is what they do,” an insider said. “They are pretty smart. They will keep that defense strong so they can win with Kirk Cousins.”
An evaluator said he thought Hughes was the best corner in the draft, but off-the-field concerns -- including an assault charge that precipitated his departure from North Carolina -- knocked him down. Another evaluator said there was a wide range of opinions on Hughes in their draft room, with some thinking Hughes could be a top-three corner in this draft class.
”There were teams discussing whether to take him in the top 10 because he is that good of a player,” one exec said. “[Mike] Zimmer was willing to deal with the risk, but this is a situation where people are going to look into his past. Is that worth the headache? I thought they would take an offensive lineman, but Hughes was probably the best player on their board.”
Hughes was, reportedly, up front with teams about the incidents from his past when asked about them at the Scouting Combine and in individual interviews with teams, and the Vikings apparently felt comfortable enough with his answers to use their first round choice on him.
If Hughes turns out to be the sort of corner that these NFL executives seem to think he can be, as well as providing some value as a return specialist, then he’s going to be viewed in a year or two as an absolute steal. Hopefully the Vikings can develop him to his fullest potential.