EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings newest cornerback has met the media, as the organization introduced cornerback Mike Hughes on Friday afternoon.
Minnesota tabbed Hughes with the No. 30 overall pick in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft on Thursday night.
The former University of Central Florida standout started 11 games and made 49 tackles (37 solo) with four interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown. He added one-half tackle for loss with 11 passes broken up and one forced fumble.
Hughes was listed at 5-foot-10 and 189 pounds at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine, but the North Carolina native said he can more than hold his own on the field against taller wide receivers.
“Just press and technique,” Hughes said. “Being fundamentally sound and using my leverage to my help.
“Just being psychical and not playing to your size,” Hughes added. “People say I’m short, but I don’t think I play like I’m 5-10 … I play like I’m 6-foot.”
Here are four other takeaways from Hughes’ podium session Friday:
1. Draft night memories
Hughes had been training over the past few months in Los Angeles, which is where he was Thursday night during the first round.
He said he was surrounded by 50 family and friends, a group that went bonkers when Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman called late in the first round.
“It was unreal. I had a bunch of family around, and they were excited so I could barely hear Rick on the phone,” Hughes said. “But it was an unreal moment, something I’ve been dreaming about since I was little.”
2. A similar defense
Hughes mentioned his competitiveness in his opening press conference at Twin Cities Orthopedics Center, and said his previous and future defensive schemes will suit him well.
He said he can excel in single coverage, welcomes the challenge of being on an island and hates when opposing receivers catch the ball against him.
“Obviously we run a lot of man-to-man,” Hughes said. “I think that’s one of my greatest strengths is being a cover corner and going up and pressing guys.
“I look forward to doing that,” Hughes added.
3. Knowing his new teammates
Hughes joins an impressive Vikings secondary, especially at his position.
Xavier Rhodes is an All-Pro who has been to two straight Pro Bowls, while Trae Waynes has five interceptions over the past two seasons. Mackensie Alexander was a 2016 second-round pick who played against Hughes in college.
“Obviously Xavier is a big, household name guy … good corner, long arms,” Hughes said. “Trae Waynes, he came out of Michigan State and is pretty fast … he trained at the same facility I trained at for the combine.
“And I played Mackensie Alexander my freshman year at North Carolina in the ACC Championship,” Hughes added. “So I’ve got a chance to look at those guys pretty well, and I think this will be a special group.”
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer also mentioned the trio and said he hopes they take him under their wing and help him develop as a professional.
4. Quite the winning streak
Hughes enters the NFL on a personal 24-game winning streak. He was a part of UCF’s perfect 13-0 team in 2017, and Hughes played at Garden City Community College in 2016 when the program went 11-0.
Hughes laughed and had to pause when he was asked the last time he lost a game.
“My freshman year at North Carolina, we lost three games,” Hughes said. “Losing is not really in my background.”