Cornerback | Central Florida | Junior
Height: 5-foot-10 | Weight: 189 pounds
2017: Started 11 games; 49 tackles (37 solo); four interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown; one-half tackle for loss; 11 passes broken up; one forced fumble; also contributed significantly on special teams; returned 14 punts for 233 yards and a touchdown; returned 20 kickoffs for 635 yards and two touchdowns; All-Conference First-Team (CB) and Second-Team (return specialist); three-time The American Player of the Week honoree
Career: Prior to playing for Central Florida as a junior in 2017, attended North Carolina in 2015, during which he played in 11 games as a true freshman; 10 tackles; three passes broken up; returned one kickoff for 40 yards
In 2016, played 11 games for Garden City Community College; 47 tackles (40 solo); two interceptions; six passes broken up; returned 10 kickoffs for 183 yards and one touchdown; returned 58 punts for 506 yards and two touchdowns; named to National Junior College Athletic Association First-Team All-America
40-yard dash: 4.53 seconds
Bench press: 20 reps of 225 pounds (second among cornerbacks)
Broad jump: 10 feet, 7 inches (tied for fourth among cornerbacks)
Vertical jump: 35.5 inches (tied for 10th among cornerbacks)
3-cone drill: 6.7 seconds (fourth among cornerbacks)
20-yard shuttle: 4.13 seconds (eighth among cornerbacks)
View images of 30th overall pick Central Florida cornerback Mike Hughes.
Summary:As a standout at New Bern High School (North Carolina) where he played on both sides of the ball, Hughes was named First-Team All-State by the Associated Press after helping lead the Bears to a 15-0 record and Class 4A state championship. He earned MVP honors in the title game after rushing for 273 yards and accounting for seven touchdowns.
Hughes went on to play one season for his home-state Tar Heels but served a two-game suspension in October for an off-field incident. He did not return to North Carolina for the 2016 season, instead playing at Garden City Community College, from which he was convinced by then-Central Florida Head Coach Scott Frost to join the Knights for the 2017 season. Hughes helped Central Florida notch an undefeated season.
According to his NFL.com Draft profile, Hughes is a physical corner and "gives opponents a rough ride out of their release." He is said to track and catch the football like a receiver, has impressive timing and "should be able to run with most every receiver in the league." Hughes also is lauded for his skills as a return specialist and ability to quickly flip field position.
NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein pointed out that Hughes doesn't have extensive game experience but is a "projection-based prospect" who has demonstrated twitch, ball production and toughness.
"Despite being a little short, he is likely to stay outside in coverage," Zierlein said. "While teams wait for him to gain coverage experience, they can certainly lean on his tremendous talents as a return man."
Stacking up: NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks ranked Hughes as this year's second-best cornerback before and after the combine. Fellow analyst Mike Mayock initially tabbed Hughes as the third-best cornerback but bumped him to fourth following the combine. Daniel Jeremiah identified Nelson as the 16th overall-best player in his list of Top 50 prospects before the combine but afterward slid him down two spots to 18.
"Hughes did have an off-the-field issue at his previous school (North Carolina), [but] overall, Hughes is an outstanding cover cornerback, and he's ready to start right away at the next level," Jeremiah said.
Predicted as a pro prospect:When the Knights recruited Hughes for the 2017 season, the cornerback's former high school coach raved about him and predicted that it wouldn't be long before Hughes was drafted.
"I've coached high school for 27 years and had four players go on to the NFL," said New Bern Head Coach Bobby Curling. "And Mike Hughes is, pound-for-pound, the best high school football player I have ever coached."