This offseason, the Detroit Lions have put a ton of work into re-shaping their roster, and the good news is lots of their decisions have been very well-received by the football public.
One move, however, may have flown significantly under-the-radar according to the experts. When the Lions signed cornerback Mike Hughes, it wasn’t the kind of move that made big league headlines, but the addition could pay off handsomely in Detroit this coming season according to some.
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Recently, Pro Football Focus and Brad Spielberger took a look at picking the best offseason move for every team in the NFC. Perhaps shockingly, the addition of Hughes to the Detroit backfield was seen as the best decision the team made. PFF and Spielberger loved the way Hughes showed in terms of metrics last season in Kansas City, citing his 78.8 coverage grade as a major reason for his success.
As Spielberger concluded, “the addition of Hughes will go a long way early in the season opposite Amani Oruwariye. When Okudah and Jacobs return, Hughes has experience playing in the slot and on the outside, as well as playing a lot of zone concepts and heavy press-man. So he can potentially be deployed wherever needed in a secondary that needs to improve in 2022.”
That kind of depth could help the Lions in a big way, as the team was thinned out by injuries last season to Jeff Okudah and Jerry Jacobs and struggled giving up too many passing yards as a result.
Hughes was cited for his own struggles in big moments with the Chiefs last season, but in the end, he could mean a lot to the Lions on the back end and give the team the kind of weapon they have needed. Along the way, he could flourish as well.
Hughes’ Career Stats & Highlights
Still very young at just 25, Hughes was a first-round pick of the rival Minnesota Vikings back in 2018 out of UCF. Hughes had an up and down start to his career with the Vikings, which led to him being traded last offseason to Kansas City. Hughes has been statistically decent even if he hasn’t been dominating with 144 tackles, 7 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries, 3 interceptions, 2 touchdowns and 18 passes defended. Perhaps his biggest play came in 2021 when he sealed a game against Cleveland with an interception:
Hughes will come to the Lions with a chance to find a home early in his career, and given the major opportunity ahead of him, it’s not wise to bet against him being able to do just that.
Hughes Could Alleviate Depth Problems at Corner Himself
At this point of the offseason, the question that circulates for many analysts revolves around what holes are the biggest remaining for any given team in the league. In terms of the Lions, cornerback has been cited as a big spot of veteran need given the team’s injury troubles at the spot as well as the fact that Detroit didn’t invest big money in free agency at the position or the draft. Hughes, however, could be a major key to helping ease these concerns for the Lions if he pans out. As a former top pick as well as a player who has seen plenty of NFL run, Hughes could be a perfect veteran depth buy for the team, and become a reclamation project for the Lions that has success. Last year, the Lions signed underrated edge rusher Charles Harris, who rose from obscurity to produce 7.5 sacks. In Hughes, there is hopes the Lions can get this type of production from a former young stud again, but this time at the always needy spot of cornerback.
Hughes has already seemed motivated to become an elite option already in Detroit, and some think that’s just what he is going to find a way to get done when things shake out this coming season.