Vikings pick former New Bern High star in first round of NFL Draft

Mike Hughes (Brian North, NewsChannel 12 photo)

Former New Bern High School star Mike Hughes was picked in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday by the Minnesota Vikings.

Hughes was the 30th pick overall.

Hughes' only year at UCF was a memorable one. He had 49 total tackles, a forced fumble and four interceptions, one for a 57-yard touchdown against Maryland. He's remembered most for his 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against South Florida on Thanksgiving that allowed the Golden Knights to win, 49-42, to advance to the AAC Championship game. There, UCF beat then No. 20 Memphis 62-55 in two overtimes to win the AAC title.

In the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, UCF beat Auburn 34-27, allowing the Golden Knights to finish the season 13-0.

Hughes came to UCF from Garden City Community College after a stint at the University of North Carolina.

Hughes becomes the third cornerback drafted in the first round by the Vikings in the last six years, with current starters Xavier Rhodes coming in 2013 and Trae Waynes coming in 2015. Terence Newman became a free agent and has not re-signed. Mackensie Alexander, their second-round pick in 2016, has not taken hold of the nickel role. So Hughes could make an immediate impact on coach Mike Zimmer's defense.

Returning kickoffs would be welcomed, too, where the Vikings have yet to find a productive replacement for Cordarrelle Patterson after his departure following the 2016 season.

The Vikings had plenty of offensive linemen widely projected as first-round picks to choose from on Thursday night when their turn finally came more than three hours into the draft. The top prospects still available included UTEP guard Will Hernandez, Iowa center James Daniels and Texas tackle Connor Williams, all three of which carry the potential to step in and start for the Vikings at guard.

Over their previous 10 drafts, the Vikings selected only 15 offensive linemen, with the only ones remaining on the roster being the ones from 2017: starting center Pat Elflein (third round) and backup guard Danny Isidora (fifth round).

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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