Vernon Hargreaves Should Cover Kelvin Benjamin
By James Yarcho
Vernon Hargreaves III has proved to be the most reliable member of this Buccaneers secondary early in his career. It’s time for him to take the biggest challenge on the biggest stage.
He may have only played four games in his career, but Vernon Hargreaves III has already shown why the Buccaneers drafted him with their first pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. He’s been a consistent, reliable cover corner that doesn’t give up the big play, can make a play on the ball, and loves to lay out hits on his opponents. Another bonus? It’s not likely he’s going to miss a tackle, either.
When Mike Smith was asked about Hargreaves being elevated to the feature corner on the outside opposite Brent Grimes, he didn’t hold back when speaking about Hargreaves’ improvements and skill;
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"“We wanted to put Vernon out back outside. It was a decision that we made as a staff in just trying to mix and match and feel like what was going to give us the best opportunity to match up. I think we will continue to look at it each and every week. He has been trained both on the inside and on the outside, so it gives us a lot of flexibility. It can give us some things down the road, In terms of how we want to put more resources on a certain receiver, it gives us flexibility. But he took the majority of his snaps on the outside last week and did a good job. [Cornerback] Jude [Adjei-Barimah] came in and played the nickel position for us.”"
At this point in the season, I trust Hargreaves to cover Benjamin far more than any other player in this Bucs secondary. Grimes has been beat far too often in the red zone. On top of that, his constant slipping and falling have led to big plays. Against the Panthers, those mistakes turn into touchdowns and the Buccaneers can’t afford for that to happen.
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Something has to give. Something has to change. Hargreaves getting the opportunity to stop Benjamin may be the start. And if he shuts him down, that could be the spark this team desperately needs.
Click below to hear me on The PewterCast where we talk Broncos, injuries, preview the Panthers game, and dive more into the state of this defense.