Here’s the 2018 NFL Draft profile of cornerback Mike Hughes out of the University of Central Florida breaking down his strengths, weaknesses, video highlights, and if he would be a fit for the New York Jets.
After spending the 2015 season as a member of the University of North Carolina football team, Hughes, 5-11, and 189 lbs., was suspended for violating team rules. He then transferred to Garden City Community College in 2016 where he earned National Junior College All-American honors after totaling 47 tackles, two interceptions, and six pass breakups.
Then in 2017, Hughes decided to attend UCF where he helped lead the Knights to an undefeated season while earning first-team All-American Athletic Conference honors as a cornerback in addition to earning second-team accolades as a returner.
A high-level return man and skillful defensive back with elite speed, Hughes has shown promise, but like any player, he does indeed have improvements to make.
Let’s take a look at his strengths, weaknesses, video highlights and if he might be a good fit with the New York Jets.
Although his primary position resides at cornerback, what sticks out most about Hughes in regards to his strengths is his ability as a returner.
With incredible speed, Hughes has a knack for not only picking up big chunks of yardage on returns but also for eluding initial tacklers. Throughout 2017, he returned two kicks for touchdowns while averaging 31.8 yards per return in addition to returning one punt for a touchdown while averaging 16.6 yards per return.
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In regards to his skills as a defensive back, Hughes has shown solid toughness and physicality for his size and is quite aggressive from the press.
The North Carolina native has also shown a great ability to play the ball. He tracks down the ball extremely well once it’s in the air and has proven to be able to make adjustments in order to come down with an interception.
His elite level speed also helps in this category, as he has the ability to run in stride with many opposing wide receivers. In 2017, Hughes totaled 49 tackles, four interceptions, and 11 pass breakups.
Despite his physicality and aggressiveness, Hughes lacks a bit of size for his position, which sometimes leads him to be overpowered by taller and more physical wide receivers.
What may be his biggest weakness, however, is his lack of experience. Having played only two years of high-level college football and only serving out one as a starter, many felt as if Hughes should have returned to UCF for another year.
There is room for slight improvements to be made in multiple areas such as route recognition, coverage, and tackling, which all could have been addressed had he returned to school to gain more experience. Now, Hughes will have to attempt to make these improvements on a bigger stage.
Despite his lack of experience, Hughes is an excellent athlete with elite level speed, strong skills as a returner and a terrific ability to play the ball. All of which likely to lead to him one day into becoming a solid NFL player.
Entering the offseason, the Jets needed to address the cornerback position and the team did in a big way by signing free agent Trumaine Johnson and re-signing Morris Claiborne. Juston Burris and Buster Skrine also both remain with the team.
Although not a necessity at all, the Jets could likely add more depth at cornerback if the team wanted to and Hughes’ abilities not only as a defender but as a returner are enticing, to say the least.
However, I don’t see him ending up in the Green and White. Many experts expect Hughes to go in the second round, but the Jets no longer have a second round pick after trading up to No. 3 overall pick in the first round. He won’t make it past Round 2 of this year’s draft.