Life comes at you fast, or so the saying goes.
One day, you’re a first-round pick. The next day, things aren’t quite working out. The day after that, you are traded to a new team and are fighting for a roster spot.
Enter Mike Hughes.
Since being named general manager in the summer of 2017, Brett Veach has shown a penchant for going after former first-round picks whose careers have not quite worked out with the team who initially drafted them. Selected 30th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings, Hughes certainly fits the bill of low-risk/high-upside acquisitions that Veach likes to make.
There was always a good chance that Mike Hughes would make the Chiefs’ initial 53-man roster, but ask any number of players around the league who were not so lucky the last couple of days — nothing in the NFL is guaranteed.
The Kansas City Chiefs traded for Hughes in May of this year, sending a sixth-round pick to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for Hughes and their seventh-round pick. When you look at the quality of Mike Hughes’s play on the field this preseason, it appears that once again, the Chiefs are paying pennies on the dollar for a starting-caliber outside cornerback. But things weren’t so certain a few months ago.
“You just have to control what you can control,” said Hughes from the podium on Tuesday, “Just try to come in every day and do your job to the best of your ability, try to go out there and compete. Like I said, just treat every day like you can be gone tomorrow.”
Hughes looked the part of a hard-nosed competitor in each of the Chiefs' three preseason games.
When asked about why cornerbacks like himself seem to thrive in defensive coordinator Steve Spagnolo’s system, Hughes credited his fellow teammates in the cornerback’s room for a lot of his success.
“Coach puts a big emphasis on working hard, so that’s really what we do at practice,” said Hughes. “We work, we work, and once it becomes game week, it’s that much easier. Just come in every day with the right mindset, and we’re all going to rally behind each other. That’s the most important thing about that group. The camaraderie is great; we’re all going to help one another.”
In an albeit limited sample size, Hughes has made plays since joining the Chiefs. Against the Arizona Cardinals, he broke up two passes that initially looked like completions. On both occasions, he showed tenacity, sticking with the play and dislodging the ball from the receiver’s grasp as they went down to the turf.
Even so, Hughes knows that strong play in the preseason doesn’t guarantee that he’ll be in the starting lineup on September 12 when the Cleveland Browns come to town to open the season.
“I haven’t been told anything, man,” said Hughes. “Reverting back to what I said earlier, control what I can control, you know, wherever they want me to play, I’ll play and, you know, I just roll with it.”
Part of rolling with it includes the possibility of returning kicks for the Chiefs. Hughes had a 76-yard punt return for a touchdown nullified by an illegal block in the back by Byron Pringle.
“It’s always a good feeling to get in the end zone. No matter the situation, but it felt really good,” said Hughes reflecting on the play, “It’s been a while since I returned a punt, probably since college, I think. It felt good to have those guys do their job up front, they did a great job. I was untouched, and I just look forward to making those plays.”
Regardless of what is asked of him, Hughes’ attitude remains the same.
“I’m gonna always stay ready. So I ain’t got to get ready.”
Because at the end of the day, he says he has one goal.
“Try to get the big job done, and you know what that is.”
Yes, Mike, we know what the big job is, and we will be very pleased once it’s done.
Where will Mike Hughes make his greatest impact this year?
This poll is closed
As a outside cornerback
As a kick return specialist
A little bit of both