3 Observations: Hughes, Conklin Smooth at Vikings Rookie Minicamp

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Vikings held their first rookie minicamp practice Friday afternoon at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center, the first practice held at the gleaming new facility.

Draft picks, undrafted free agents and rookies in town on a tryout basis all took the field on a sunny but windy spring afternoon.

The Vikings will also hold rookie minicamp practice on Saturday and Sunday, but those sessions are closed to the media.

Here are three observations from Friday’s practice:

1. Hughes does it all

Vikings first-round pick Mike Hughes was anywhere and everywhere on the field in his first practice with his new team.

The former University of Central Florida cornerback lined up outside and in the slot on defense during team drills, primarily going against wide receivers Cayleb Jones and Brandon Zylstra on the outside.

Hughes also showed off his skills in punt coverage, and then quickly turned around to field a few punts.

2. Conklin catches everything

Perhaps the most eye-catching player Friday was tight end Tyler Conklin, whom the Vikings traded up in the fifth round to get in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Conklin made his presence felt in both 1-on-1 and team drills as he caught everything that came his way.

The former University of Central Michigan standout showed good hang time with a leaping grab while matched up against a linebacker, and also showed speed on a crossing route.

He also hauled in a pass near the sideline and later corralled a pass in traffic during team drills.

3. Watchful eyes

Friday was the first chance for Vikings coaches and scouts to see the rookies on the field, and a number of evaluations were taking place.

At one point, both Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer and Vikings Offensive Coordinator John DeFilippo came over and observed the offensive line group during drills.

The Vikings used two of their eight draft picks on linemen, and Zimmer made it a point to pass along footwork tips to tackle Brian O’Neill, a second-round pick.

Known for his energy during practice, DeFilippo bopped all around the field and never spent more than a few minutes with any one position group.

And an interesting moment occurred when former linebacker Scott Studwell, a Vikings Ring of Honor member and the franchise’s all-time leading tackler, stood nearby as the rookie linebackers went through individual drills.

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