The Vikings snagged Mike Hughes with the 30th overall pick last week, as the cornerback was the third player chosen at his position in the draft.
Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said the organization felt they got a great value pick in Hughes, whom Spielman and his staff said was the highest-rated player on their board when it was Minnesota’s turn to pick.
NFL.com writer Cynthia Frelund agreed with Spielman’s assertion, writing that Hughes was the third-best value pick* *in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Frelund believes adding Hughes to the mix along with Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Trae Waynes [who re-signed with Minnesota on Monday] gives the Vikings strong depth in the secondary.
The Vikings' roster was very strong and well-rounded before the draft. Adding a corner like Hughes at the very end of the first round provides both depth this year and a bridge to the future in their secondary at a very low cost.
In addition to corner Xavier Rhodes (a five-year veteran coming off his first All-Pro season), 39-year-old Terence Newman had been a big part of this extremely productive defensive backfield, helping the Vikings post the NFL's stingiest third-down defense (allowing a 25.2 percent conversion rate on the all-important down) and allow the second-fewest passing yards per game (192.4). A corner like Hughes, who, per PFF, allowed just 34 receptions for 301 yards with less than 2 yards after contact per reception in 2017, along with a 43.8 passer rating (with four interceptions and nine pass breakups), adds depth and youth to the Vikings corners. At UCF, Hughes also showed his ability as a return specialist, adding extra return on the Vikings' inexpensive investment.
Hughes recorded 49 tackles (37 solo) with four interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, in 11 games for the University of Central Florida in 2017.
Hughes also returned 14 punts for 233 yards and a touchdown; and added 20 kickoff returns for 635 yards and two touchdowns. He was a First-Team All-American Athletic Conference selection as a cornerback and earned Second-Team All-American Athletic Conference honors as a return specialist.
Maple Grove’s Wieneke excited to join Vikings
The Vikings on Monday announced they had signed 17 former college players as undrafted free agents.
That list included a Minnesota native in Jake Wieneke, a former standout at Maple Grove High School and South Dakota State University.
Matt Zimmer of the Argus Leader in South Dakota recently chatted with Wieneke about his emotions during the draft and eventually landing with his hometown team.
Though the four-time All-American wide receiver did not get a call during the NFL Draft — which concluded its third and final day Saturday from Dallas — the Maple Grove, Minn., native signed with the Vikings as a rookie free agent almost immediately after the draft ended. He’ll report to the Vikings rookie minicamp next weekend, hoping to begin the process of carving out an NFL career for himself.
“I’m just at a loss for words,” Wieneke said via phone just minutes after the draft. “I’ve been dreaming about this my whole life. It’s crazy.”
Zimmer said Wieneke hopes to bring versatility to the Vikings and prove his worth in multiple phases.
Wieneke’s speed (his 40 times hovered in the 4.7 range) was likely what kept him off the draft board, but his production, size and ball skills could result in him being far more than a bit player in the league.
“I’m excited to help them,” Wieneke said. “My goal is to come in and earn a spot, whether it’s special teams, as a wide receiver, practice squad, whatever.”
Wieneke is both the South Dakota State and Missouri Valley Football Conference career record holder in receptions (288), receiving yards (5,157) and receiving touchdowns (59).
He was named to at least one All-American team all four years of college, and was a First-Team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference player each season for the Jackrabbits.