Rather than taking an offensive lineman as most believed they should, The Minnesota Vikings selected defensive back Mike Hughes out of UCF with their first round pick.
Given their current offensive line situation, most expected the Minnesota Vikings to take an offensive lineman at the end of the first round. Or maybe they would trade down to the early second round, where they would take an offensive lineman. Instead, the Vikings added another weapon to Mike Zimmer’s defensive arsenal when they stayed put at 30 and drafted defensive back Mike Hughes out of UCF.
Hughes started his college career at North Carolina, then wound up at a community college and finally ended up in Florida at UCF. According to Pro Football Focus, Hughes finished his only season at Central Florida with seven interceptions and 50 tackles.
It’s understandable to want an offensive lineman with this pick and its very practical to want to protect your $84 million investment. However, injuries are inevitable and if either Xavier Rhodes or Trae Waynes were to miss any significant time, there would be an exploitable lack of talent in whomever would be called on to fill in.
Hughes alleviates this lack of talent and if Mackenzie Alexander can continue to progress, this could be one of the best defensive backfields in the NFL next season. In addition to his coverage abilities, Hughes also brings a dynamic kick return game that this team has been lacking since the departure of Cordarrelle Patterson. Hughes scored two kick return TD’s, a punt return TD and gained 868 return yards between both PR and KR in his only year at UCF
Mike Zimmer has had great success with defensive backs in his career and has been pretty darn good with the corners he currently has on the roster. There is no reason to believe that Zimmer will not be able to turn Hughes into a viable, starting caliber defensive back.