Buccaneers: Vernon Hargreaves will develop into a special cornerback

TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 11: Vernon Hargreaves III
TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 11: Vernon Hargreaves III /

Despite the tough rookie year, the Buccaneers will reap the benefits of Vernon Hargreaves‘ talents, as the film shows.

Leading up to the 2016 draft, the Buccaneers spent a lot of draft resources to look at Vernon Hargreaves. The team needed to improve their secondary and Hargreaves was a local boy, coming from the University of Florida. As the saying goes, they were on him like white on rice. Jason Licht targeted him right away and was thrilled to make him his first pick of the 2016 draft.

It was a tough year for the young player. He was the only cornerback to allow more than 1,000 yards receiving to his opponents. Hargreaves was targeted early and often, which was expected with veteran Brent Grimes on the other side of the field. “VHIII” did his best to hold his own, but the fact is that he saw skills he just simply hadn’t seen in college. The game is faster and Hargreaves struggled.

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However, the Bucs by no means barked up the wrong tree with this guy. Hargreaves is going to be a special one. How do I know? Because he flashed it last year.

Through the rough year, he did show one thing that you can’t teach. Vernon Hargreaves has ball skills. He can go find the football. Those are the instincts that led the Bucs to select him.

He did have a tough season, but on one particular play, we got a little hint of what is to come with this young man. We are going to go inside the film room and look at that play. It’s his first career interception, which took place in a game against the New Orleans Saints.

Let’s take a look:

The Bucs are set up with two safeties up top and Hargreaves is lined up on the right side of the defense. Drew Brees is lined up in the shotgun and he will be looking for his tight end, Coby Fleener. Kwon Alexander is going to drop back into coverage and be on Fleener like a glove. Hargreaves will slide to the middle of the defense, watching Brees’ eyes all the way.

As Brees drops back to throw, he has his eyes on his tight end all the way down the field. Kwon is stuck on him as Fleener makes his cut to the inside. Hargreaves, who doesn’t have any man to man responsibilities on the play, is concentrating on the quarterback. He sees where he is going and is preparing to make a move to where the ball is going.

Brees is trusting his arm and attempting to hit Fleener by dropping one in over Alexander’s hands. Hargreaves is on his way to that area to help out. He may not get there in time, but instincts also put you in the right place at the right time.

Look at the athletic play by our guy, Kwon Alexander. He gets some serious elevation on the play, enabling him to get one hand on the pass and knocking it away from Fleener. It seems as if the pass is going to fall harmlessly to the ground, right? Or maybe somebody is in the right place to make something else happen.

It’s Vernon Hargreaves there to catch the deflection and record his first NFL interception.

No, it isn’t an example of great man coverage. It shows that Hargreaves has an innate ability to find the football. These instincts cannot be taught. On the play, Hargreaves let his football abilities take over, and that is a big step in the game slowing down. He is catching up to NFL football, and Bucs fans should be excited about that prospect.

Next: Jason Licht and his near complete roster turnover

Hargreaves is going to be special. Give him time and you will see.