Vernon Hargreaves Addresses a Huge Need for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
When you talk cornerbacks in this draft class, the first name that jumps out is Jalen Ramsey. Ramsey is a stud, and that's inevitable.
But the second corner off the board was a bit of a shocker when Eli Apple went to the New York Giants. It had begun to feel like Vernon Hargreaves III was being overlooked a bit.
Tampa Bay didn't overlook him, though, and with the 11th overall pick, they made former Florida Gator Vernon Hargreaves a Buccaneer.
Hargreaves made an impact right from the beginning of his college career, playing in all 12 games and recording 38 tackles, 3 interceptions and 10 pass defenses as a true freshman in 2013, and again playing every game in his next two seasons.
The diminutive Hargreaves sizes up at 5'10" and 204 pounds with 30-and-5/8-inch arms.
The trend lately has been to bring in big, physical corners, in the mold of the Seahawks' Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner (though with his recent play, one has to wonder if Browner is a player you want yours to emulate), meaning it's Hargreaves' special talents and strong measurables in other areas that land him in the top half of the first round.
Here are how his combine numbers stack up to other cornerbacks, courtesy of MockDraftable:
As far as player comparisons go, here are Hargreaves' top five, also per MockDraftable:
|Player||Year||Similarity||Draft Round||NFL Games Started|
A few things jump out here.
Firstly, none of these guys were top prospects like Hargreaves. There's only so much that measurables will show you, and it stands to reason that Hargreaves is a better on-field prospect than these guys based on draft position when their measurables are so similar.
The second thing is that, especially when you take into consideration their later draft positions, this is largely a productive group of prospects.
McGee was a two-time All-Pro and started 90 games, Manning started over 90 games and was named a Pro Football Focus All-Pro in 2008, and while Poteat only started 20 games, he carved himself out a niche as a role player and appeared in 113 NFL games.
Pro Football Focus has him as their third-ranked cornerback prospect, and while his 2015 season didn't quite match his 2014 one, he finished 2014 with their second-highest coverage grade. They're high on his cerebral play, fluid on-field movement, and ability to play in a variety of coverages, making him a nice fit for most teams.
Tampa Bay finished last season ranked 28th in our schedule-adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, and Hargreaves will go a long way to addressing that weakness.
Hargreaves joins Brent Grimes, another new addition to the defensive backfield, on a defense that already ranked ninth against the run in 2015, and Tampa Bay looks to be putting together a reliable defensive unit.
Hargreaves has huge upside in the pros, and filling the biggest position of need in an otherwise-promising defense has to make you optimistic if you're a Bucs fan.