Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman
Very excited today to introduce you to our first-round draft pick in 2018, Mike Hughes. We talked about him last night, what he brings to the organization not only as a football player on the field, the positions he can play as a corner, but also the unique traits he has as our potential returner as well. We're very fortunate that he was down there were we were picking at number 30. We're very excited to have him in today. His agent, Chris Ellison, is here, and I already kidded him that we should have the contract done and announce that sometime about 10 minutes after this press conference. But we're looking forward to tonight, I know that there's going to be another opportunity to add some quality players to this roster, so we're getting ready to kick off here in about an hour and we're excited for potentially what's going to happen. With that, I'll turn it over to Coach Zimmer.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
Nice to see you again, 18 hours from last night. With Mike, we had an opportunity to visit with him quite a bit when he was here on the top-30 visit. We visited with him at the Combine, we had him in the formal interview room, and so as we started talking more football we felt really, really comfortable about his intellect, the way he plays the game, and then obviously the things that he does on tape. A famous old coach called me this morning and said that one of the reasons he likes me is because he understands that you can never have too many cornerbacks. There's a commercial on TV right now where the lady asks this guy how many guns he needs, and he says just one more. That's how we feel about corners- just one more. So as many times as we can find guys that can cover around here, the more we want. Mike's a tremendous athlete, great quickness in and out of the cut. A short shuttle time, which I look at very hard. He was outstanding, obviously, in his 40-yard time. He goes and gets the ball in the air, and as Rick said he's an excellent returner. We're excited to have him here and can't wait to get him back and get him here next weekend and get to work with him. I'm sure our veteran corners will take him under their arms and help him to become a great professional football player here. Our newest first-round draft pick, Mike Hughes.
Vikings Cornerback Mike Hughes
1st Round (30th overall), UCF
First off I just want to say it's a blessing to be here and a blessing to be in this position. I want to thank General Manager Rick Spielman, Coach Zimmer and the Wilf family for believing in me and believing in what I can bring to the organization. I'm just excited to get to work.
Q: Is it starting to settle in right now that this is your future?
A: Yes sir. As I walked around the building and met everybody, I got a chance to see my jersey so that really got me excited. So, it's definitely settling in a little bit.
Q: Can you talk about your kick return ability and are you hopeful to be the guy returning kicks next season?
A: Yeah, I'm definitely hopeful I'll be doing that. That's an aspect to my game that a lot of people don't have and a lot of people don't take it as serious as I do. I'm ready to bring what I have to offer to this organization and I'm ready to get to work.
Q: What do you think of the way kick returns are trending?
A: If they're eliminated then I'll still have punt returns.
Q: At 5'10" how do you cover 6'3" or 6'4" receivers?
A: Just stressing technique, being fundamentally sound, using my leverage to my help, just being physical and not playing to your size. People say I'm short but I don't feel like I play 5'10" I feel like I play like I'm 6'0". Just being physical and competing are the most important things.
Q: Have you always felt the need to play bigger and how did you get the nickname Big Mike?
A: The way I play on the field, I kind of got that nickname my freshman year of high school. Started playing quarterback, I made some pretty crazy plays at quarterback. Some guys started calling me Houdini, Big Mike and I just kind of started rolling with Big Mike even though I was maybe 5'9 in high school. It just kind of stuck with me.
Q: Does your quarterback experience help you play against them?
A: Yeah, definitely. As a cornerback knowing where the quarterback wants to get the receiver the ball. Or even in special teams being a return man, playing quarterback kind of helped me get the feel for making the right cuts and just having great vision on the field.
Q: What was it like when Minnesota called you last night?
A: It was unreal. I had a bunch of family around, they were excited. I could barely hear Rick [Spielman] on the phone. But it was an unreal moment. It's something I've been dreaming about since I was little, so I just kind of soaked everything up and I'm just ready to get to work.
Q: What role did Garden City and Jeff Sims play in where you're at today?
A: He played a huge role. Jeff he's a guy that doesn't get enough credit for what he does for guys like me. He definitely believes in second chances and without him none of this is possible. So, he played a huge role in this part.
Q: How do you feel coming to an organization where you will be here for a couple years and how will that help your development?
A: I think it will help out a lot. I've only been playing corner for three years. I think this staff will do a great job of polishing me as a corner. Also, the veterans that are currently here I am looking forward to learning from those guys. So I think being here for a long period of time will definitely help out my game.
Q: Where did you watch the draft and how many people were there?
A: I was down in Los Angeles where I was training. A bunch of family came up, maybe about 50 people. When I got the call from Rick [Spielman], it was pretty loud I could barely hear him. It was an exciting moment.
Q: Do you think Coach Scott Frost helped you quite a bit?
A: Hopefully he said a lot of good things which I think he did. I got a chance to talk to him after the draft. He helped me out in this process. I will give him a call when I can and thank him.
Q: Talking to Coach Mike Zimmer, what do you think is going to be the biggest adjustment?
A: Learning to play up to speed and learning the playbook. Just normal things that rookies have to get adjusted to.
Q: Are there any similarities you've seen between the defense you ran last year and the one you are expected to be a part of this year.
A: Obviously man-to-man. Run a lot of man-to-man. I think that is one of my greatest strengths is being a cover corner. Going up and pressing guys. I am looking forward to doing that. I will say that is one of the main similarities from what UCF did and how the Vikings do.
Q: Being known as a physical corner despite your size, what is the key to that for you to be so good in press coverage?
A: Just having that chip on my shoulder. I don't want to get the ball caught on me. I hate having the ball caught on me, even in practice. I just like competing. Just going up against a receiver that is either bigger than me or ranked pretty high, that builds that chip on my shoulder to go out there and compete.
Q: How much have you had a chance to watch the other corners that are with the Vikings and what are your impressions with them?
A: Xavier [Rhodes] is obviously a big household name guy. Big corner, long arms. Trae Waynes came out of Michigan State. Pretty fast. He trained at the same facility I trained at for the combine process. I played against Mackensie Alexander my freshman year at North Carolina, ACC Championship. I got a chance to look at those guys pretty well. I think this will be a special group.
Q: How do you feel about being the fourth first-round draft pick in the Vikings secondary?
A: It is an exciting number, too. I am just blessed to be in this position. I am excited to be a Viking and ready to get to work.
Q: How important was it for you to be picked in the first round?
A: Being able to be drafted in the NFL period is a blessing to me. This has been a life-long dream, whether I was picked in the fifth round, I will be excited to get to work wherever I was drafted at.
Q: How have you changed as a person and player since your freshman year at UNC?
A: Just surrounding myself around great people. People who I can look up to and can learn life lessons from and grow as a man. My mother played a big part in that. Teaching me to stay focused on the goal. That led me here to this position. Just know being aware of my situations and like I said, just being around important people will make me more successful in life.
Q: Do you remember the last time you lost a game?
A: Not off the top, I cannot. Maybe my freshman year at North Carolina. I lost three games, but we won 11 straight. Losing is not really in my background.
Q: What was last season like going undefeated and then declaring yourself National Champions?
A: To make that claim we didn't lose a game. We beat the teams who were both in the game competing for the national title. They didn't give us a shot in the playoffs and I think we deserve to make that claim. It was a special year for us. 13-0 that was the biggest winning streak in school history so that was a special moment for us last year.
Q: How inspirational has Shaquem Griffin's story been for you personally and others around you?
A: He's a guy I look up to but I see him as a football player. He does a lot of the same things that a lot of regular football players do. It's to see his name get out there and be all blown up, but I know what he can do as a football player. Like I said, he's a guy I look up to so I'm sure he'll get shot and I can't wait to hear his name called.
Q: Do you know Latavius Murray?
A: Yes, I do. He contacted me last night said he was excited once he heard the news. I'm excited to get to work with him.
Q: You enrolled at UCF two weeks before school started and was the starting cornerback by Week 2 and here you are now. Can you talk about how quickly life has unfolded?
A: I got to give a special thanks to all the guys at UCF. The coaching staff, a lot of the players welcomed me with open arms right away as soon as I got there. Them being able to help me and show me the ropes. Just around campus, not only the football field but how things work around the building. That played a big part in me adjusting getting there pretty late. So I want to give a special thanks to those guys at UCF.