The Buccaneers have never picked 9th in their draft history, so last night was slated to be a franchise first. They traded down and took Vernon Hargreaves. Here is a recap of the evening.
After the two quarterbacks began the draft, back-to-back Buckeyes were followed by a cornerback/safety hybrid, and two offensive tackles were taken above top prospect Laremy Tunsil during what can only be considered the “Great Tunsil Twitter Disaster”. How did the Buccaneers do?
After the Cleveland Browns traded out of the 8th overall pick, the Bucs followed suit and moved down to the 11th overall pick in a trade with the hometown Chicago Bears who grabbed Georgia linebacker Leonard Floyd.
In the trade, Tampa netted a fourth-round pick (106th overall) this year to go along with the 11th overall pick.
Following a six-win season Tampa Bay, is in need of interior and exterior defensive line help, secondary players, and has secondary needs on the offensive line and at the receiver position. When the New York Giants took Ohio State’s Eli Apple with the 10th pick, it was a surprising move, which made the Buckeyes the first team to have three players taken in the top-10 of the NFL Draft, ever.
Then it was time for Jason Licht and staff, and the pick was:
As part of the main rotation for the Bucs in mock drafts across the media landscape, Hargreaves III was highly considered the second-best cornerback behind Florida State’s Jalen Ramsey, who went fifth overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
With ten career interceptions as a Gator in the hotly contested SEC, Hargreaves III regularly faced off against talents with names like Odell Beckham Jr, Jarvis Landry, and Kelvin Benjamin during his days at Florida State.
While his height and speed are a concern to most – including me – his talent and production shows up on tape and he will have a shot at becoming a big-time player in a secondary which placed 17th in yards allowed through the air and fifth worst in passing touchdowns allowed with 31.
Look for Hargreaves III battle early for a starting spot opposite of veteran free-agent acquisition Brent Grimes when teams get to camp. Worst case, the team looks to have gotten a good young talent to immediately insert into their nickel package while he develops into a cerebral type corner who can outplay his physical shortcomings, a la Ronde Barber.
Where franchise trends are concerned, the Bucs had never selected 11th overall before, and Hargreaves III is the first cornerback taken in the first round since the 2008 selection of Bronco Aqib Talib. He’s also the only corner taken since the 2013 draft when the team selected embattled cornerback Johnthan Banks.
Adding talent to the secondary is big for the team heading into a season where they’ll matchup against receivers like Julio Jones, Kelvin Benjamin, Brandin Cooks, Demaryius Thomas, Dez Bryant, and more. The team still needs help, however, so it will be interesting to see how they fare as the draft continues.
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