The Vikings continue to improve their already dominant defense.
With the 30th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings have selected cornerback Mike Hughes from UCF. Hughes will join All-Pro Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes to form an impressive trio at the cornerback position.
The Vikings were expected by many to take an offensive lineman in the first round, but they opted for Hughes instead. He will likely sit behind Rhodes and Waynes next season and should develop into an eventual starter.
What the Vikings are Getting
At the University of Central Florida, Mike Hughes was one of the Knights’ biggest playmakers. Hughes displays excellent physicality when in press coverage and has the speed to run with any NFL receiver. He also has impressive ball skills for his size (5-foot, ten inches).
Last season, Hughes had 11 passed defended, including four interceptions. His combination of speed, ball-skills, and physicality is rare among draft prospects and fits the mold of Mike Zimmer’s ideal cornerback.
Additionally, Hughes adds value on special teams. With UCF, he returned three kicks back for six points (two kickoffs, one punt), including a game-winner against rival South Florida. He should have an immediate impact in the return game and will gain more defensive snaps as his rookie year progresses.
The main concern regarding Hughes is his lack of experience. Hughes only played at UCF for one season and has some issues with coverage. He will need coaching on footwork and route recognition to be successful at the next level. However, Mike Zimmer is one of the most widely respected defensive back coaches in the NFL, so these problems should be corrected.
The Vikings’ main need heading into the second day of the draft remains their offensive line. Minnesota was expected to select a lineman with the 30th overall pick, but opted for Hughes when he slid in the first round. The offensive line, especially guard, is the Vikings’ only true weakness.
Minnesota was one of the least efficient rushing offenses in the NFL in 2017. Also, protecting newly-minted quarterback Kirk Cousins will be a priority next season. The Vikings could grab a few quality guards later in the draft, despite missing out on some elite talent. Two names to watch are James Daniels and Will Hernandez. Both are considered to be second-round talents, so one could fall to the Vikings’ second pick (No. 62 overall).
Daniels, a center from Iowa, is one of the most technically sound linemen in the draft. He is undersized, but has the strength and protection skills to become an immediate starter. Hernandez, a guard from UTEP, is another good talent that slipped out of the first round. He is the epitome of a power run-blocker, but still holds up well in pass protection.
Regardless of who is picked at No. 62, improving the offensive line is a must for the Minnesota Vikings.
Featured image by Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
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