What kind of impact will Mike Hughes have on the Kansas City Chiefs this season?
Of all the offseason acquisitions, the trade that brought Minnesota Vikings cornerback Mike Hughes to the Kansas City Chiefs is one of, if not, the most intriguing of them all. The former 2018 first round pick had a rough go with Minnesota since being drafted, constantly struggling with injuries and just disappointing play overall.
Hughes played 24 games in three seasons and only started in 7 of those games. In that time, Hughes recorded 67 solo tackles, 13 passes defended, and 2 interceptions.
While Hughes had what some could call “meh” production, he showed some some potential while in Minnesota. Still, he often struggled when matched up against bigger, more physical receivers and looked a little lost at times.
All of that is why Minnesota was willing to part with him for just a sixth rounder from the Kansas City Chiefs.
When considering all of that, Hughes was certainly a huge unknown going into training camp and the preseason because he hadn’t done all that much in the NFL up to this point. Plus, there was a risk associated with his injury history that includes serious neck issues.
Kansas City Chiefs: Mike Hughes has potential to help the Chiefs in an interesting way
However, Hughes has flashed in training camp and in preseason. Just not the way everyone probably would’ve thought. Hughes is coming along as a cornerback still, but where he appears to have found a niche is as a return man.
We knew Hughes had the ability to return kicks and punts given that he did it in college at UCF and with the Minnesota Vikings, but it wasn’t exactly clear what the plan was for the Chiefs using him there.
Going back to Hughes’ injury problems, it would seem logical to move him away from that and lighten his load as returning kicks and punts can be physically taxing, but so far Hughes has more than held up.
In the Chiefs first preseason game versus the San Francisco 49ers, Hughes returned one punt for 14 yards as well as a kickoff for 40 yards. On both returns Hughes showed good vision and willingness to run through defenders which was a refreshing sight.
Although many have high hopes for Mecole Hardman, he often made mistakes as a return man and was quite disappointing, especially considering his speed. Despite that, he averaged just 7.0 yards per punt return and 20.4 yards per kick return in 2020.
For now, it’s only a small sample size, but there are reasons to be encouraged by Hughes’ performance. A reliable return man would be huge for this Chiefs team as field position can make or break a game.
The Kansas City Chiefs were desperate for answers at returner last season, recycling a lot of the same guys, including Hardman or Byron Pringle, who was good in stints but then got hurt.
If the Chiefs offense is what we think it can be next season with a revamped offensive line and added depth, they deserve to have good field position and it would help out the offense overall, which would definitely make Kansas City Chiefs fans happy.
For just a sixth round pick, the Chiefs may have found a major contributor for a role people may not have expected.