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2018 NFL Scouting Report: Scouting UCF cornerback, Mike Hughes

Hughes would be a day one starter for the Broncos at cornerback.

NCAA Football: Peach Bowl-Auburn vs Central Florida Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

One player who may interest the Denver Broncos in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft is former University of Central Florida cornerback, Mike Hughes. He is a 5’10”, 189lb cornerback who is considered one of the top corners in this years draft. Hughes is ranked as the 5th best cornerback in the draft according to NFLDraftScout.com and is considered the 30th overall prospect in the entire draft.

Hughes played one season at UCF and put up some good numbers for them. This past season, he totaled 49 tackles, 0.5 tackles for a loss, 4 interceptions, 1 defensive touchdown, and 1 forced fumble. He also had 20 kick returns for 635 yards and 2 touchdowns and 15 punt returns for 233 yards and 1 touchdown.

Mike Hughes’s awards and honors include being named to the 2017 First Team (CB) and Second Team (Return Specialist) All-Conference in The American, a three-time The American Player of the Week (10/16, 10/30, 11/27) honoree, was named to the Paul Hornung Award Honor Roll on 10/2, and started 11 of 12 games as a cornerback for the UCF Knights.

Mike Hughes, Junior, UCF

Height: 5’10” Weight: 189lbs 40 time: 4.53 seconds

Arm Length: 30 7/8” Hands: 8 3/4”

Bench Press: 20 reps Vertical Jump: 35.5 inches Broad Jump: 127.0 inches

3-Cone Drill: 6.7 seconds 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.13 seconds

Film Room:

Scouting Report:

Strengths

  • Balanced and fluid hipped athlete
  • Despite his size, he is a physical press corner
  • Sticky in coverage
  • Can play inside and outside
  • Closes the gap quickly with impressive acceleration
  • Nose for the ball and showed intriguing ball skills
  • Dangerous once he gets the ball in his hands
  • Willing tackler
  • Talented kick and punt returner
  • 2 kick return touchdowns and 1 punt return touchdown in 2017
  • Dangerous in space
  • A talented player who should get better with more playing experience

Weaknesses

  • Doesn’t have the ideal height/weight you look for in a corner
  • Only played two years of college football
  • Inexperienced with only one-year of starting experience
  • Technique and footwork need some work
  • Not the best tackler
  • Gets a little grabby in coverage
  • While he is a physical corner, he struggles against bigger and stronger receivers.
  • Also struggles to high-point the ball in 50/50 situations
  • Has some off the field concerns that need to be checked

Quotable:

NFL Draft Scout’s Dane Brugler on UCF cornerback Mike Hughes.

SUMMARY: A one-year starter at UCF, Hughes didn’t join the Golden Knights’ roster until August 18, but quickly earned a starting role, lining up predominantly outside at left cornerback. He also made an impact on special teams as the first player in school history to return a punt, kickoff and interception for a touchdown in the same season – finished 2017 with four touchdowns and six plays of 40+ yards. In press coverage, Hughes has the lower body quickness, cover instincts and physical nature to stay connected to receivers, not allowing much separation. However, in zone or off coverage, his inconsistent eye discipline leads to judgement lapses and spacing issues. Despite lacking ideal size for a press-man cornerback, Hughes competes with the mentality and mirror skills to be a lock-down cover man – also offers immediate special teams value as a return man.

NFL Network’s draft expert Daniel Jeremiah on Mike Hughes who he has ranked as his 15th overall player in the draft.

Hughes is a fluid, agile cornerback prospect with the versatility to play inside or outside. He has good size and excels in press coverage, where he incorporates a two-hand jam and rarely allows a free release. He has very quick feet. He redirects and mirrors opponents with ease. From off coverage, Hughes has a fluid pedal and shows some pop out of his plant/drive. He’s rarely out of phase in coverage, but when he is, he has the speed to recover. His ball awareness is excellent. He isn’t a physical tackler, but he goes low and gets the ball carrier on the ground. Hughes did have an off-the-field issue at his previous school (North Carolina). Overall, Hughes is an outstanding cover cornerback and he’s ready to start right away at the next level.

Mike Hughes’s spider graph:

Does UCF cornerback Mike Hughes make sense for the Broncos in the second round of the NFL Draft?

If he is there, I don’t see why they wouldn’t consider him. The cornerback rankings vary and we don’t know how the league values these guys so we have a lot of 1st/2nd round guys. So some prospects will drop, but who remains the question.

At the end of the day, the Broncos will draft a corner, but who and when remains the question. Hughes would give the Broncos a talented prospect who can play special teams while he develops at corner. He likely isn’t day one ready, but once he figures things out, he could be a talented corner.

The Broncos have veteran Tramaine Brock to be their third corner in case the rookie and/or 2017 third-round pick Brendan Langley does not step up. So they can afford to take a prospect like Hughes if he is there.

Personally, I would like to see a bigger cornerback added, but would not be upset with Hughes. He just wouldn’t be my first choice.