Yes, it’s only been OTAs and mini-camp, but first round pick Vernon Hargreaves has already made his presence felt for the Buccaneers.
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Vernon Hargreaves was Jason Licht’s target from the jump. Licht and head coach Dirk Koetter made Hargreaves a Tampa Bay Buccaneer with the eleventh overall pick in the draft less than two months ago and it appears that choice is already paying dividends.
Now, it’s important not to overreact or read too much into these OTAs and mini-camps, but it’s also hard to not focus on players who really stand out and impress. That’s exactly what Hargreaves has done.
After practice Friday, coach Koetter was asked about Hargreaves’ potential playing time in 2016;
"“He’s going to play. Like you said, the guy has made plays every single day. Vernon is a football player, everything we thought when we drafted him. He’s going to play. It will all fall in place. A lot of that will be determined by health, but I’m very confident that Vernon can either play inside at the nickel or play outside. For whoever doesn’t know the difference, the nickel corner plays over the slot and regular corners play outside on the wide out and Vernon can play both.”"
One of the biggest knocks on Hargreaves, (and I’m guilty of it), is his size. When asked about if there are any tips he’s received from fellow teammates and undersized corners Alterraun Verner and Brent Grimes, Hargreaves had this to say,
"“It’s more than just being athletic. Those guys are extremely smart. They know what’s coming before it’s coming and that’s why they’re good and that’s why they are who they are, that’s why they’re Pro Bowlers. Just learning from them, taking bits of information from them every day, staying in their ear, staying [on] their hip, bugging them, and keep asking them questions. That’s how I learn the best and that’s what I’m doing and they’re doing a great job of helping me.”"
"“I just see a different skill set than I’ve seen out of these Buccaneers cornerbacks in a long time, and yes, Brent Grimes is the best cornerback on this team, but Vernon Hargreaves, right now, may just be the second best, as a rookie, having never played a down in the NFL. And I’m saying that based on his athletic ability.Bottom line is, there is just something about this guy’s fluidity. Just his athleticism, how fluid way he moves, and his ability to track down and find the football and diagnose plays. That’s something Jason Licht was excited about is his football knowledge. Now, people rave about Jameis Winston‘s football I.Q., Vernon Hargreaves is a very smart football player.He understands the offensive schemes and has an idea, a lot of times, of what’s going to happen. I believe all good cornerbacks take chances at times, just like Jameis takes chances with certain throws. That’s what sets him apart from a Mike Glennon. So, Vernon Hargreaves is gonna take some chances, which means he’s going to get beat a little bit.I believe he’s going to start off in the slot, playing the nickel, and you can cover that up a little bit. In a nickel situation, he’s going to have some help. It’s okay if he makes a mistake and guesses a little bit, but by making those decisions to be a risk taker, he’s gonna get his hands on the ball.One more thing that Jason Licht pointed out that he loves about Vernon Hargreaves is his ability to come up and be physical in the run game. He’s a compact kind of guy, a solid guy. He’s not a 5’10”, 189-pound corner that looks wirey or thin framed. He’s a solid guy, and he likes contact."
Again, it’s early. Again, this is mini-camp with just helmets and shorts. All that under consideration, it’s great to see and hear all these great things about the Bucs’ first round pick so early on.
No one is going to put more pressure or have higher expectations for Hargreaves than Hargreaves.