Vernon Hargreaves enters 2019 in need of a rebound for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the new coaching staff has given him a boost in confidence.
When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded back in the 2016 NFL Draft and were still able to land Vernon Hargreaves, at the time it looked like a slam dunk pick. Entering his fourth season with the team, Hargreaves has not quite lived up to those expectations and now enters a make-or-break year.
It is unclear whether or not the Buccaneers will pick up Hargreaves’ fourth year option at this point, but it has been clear that new head coach Bruce Arians expects him to make a big leap in 2019. Last week, Arians spoke to the media, stating that he expects Hargreaves and teammate Carlton Davis to be the starting outside cornerbacks this season after he missed all but one game last year.
"“I don’t know why Coach Arians said that about me, but I love it. He doesn’t know me. He doesn’t have to say anything about me, but I love it. That’s that confidence that I need. That’s that confidence that we need as a secondary, and we’re excited – the whole group is.” (via Pewter Report)"
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Judging by his comments to the media yesterday, Hargreaves expects himself to make that leap too and feels the most comfortable now than ever before. Hargreaves displayed the most confidence in himself and had a bit of swagger at the podium yesterday, and seems to feel lighter under Arians and new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.
First, Hargreaves stated that his shoulder is 100% and he is ready to roll. He has been severely hampered by injuries to this point in his career, so seeing a fully healthy season with Hargreaves outside the numbers in 2019 could allow him to finally burst onto the scene.
It helps that Hargreaves feels at home in Bowles’ scheme after having a tough time playing off the ball in predominantly zone coverage and in the slot under the last regime. Now back on the outside in a physical press coverage style of defense, Hargreaves is oozing with confidence.
"“It’s everything I do… It’s everything I do well. It is kind of like taking me back to college; it’s the same scheme: blitz the quarterback, man-to-man on the outside. Let’s get after it.” (via PewterReport)"
Pro Football Focus would agree that Hargreaves needs to be deployed in man coverage rather than in zone, as he was misused under the previous regime. According to PFF, Hargreaves graded as the 26th best corner out of 109 in press coverage, but 75th out of 78 when he did not press.
Hargreaves will look to make Arians a smart man by getting after it in 2019, a year that could be a breakout year for the fourth-year professional. While many expected the Buccaneers to invest a valuable asset in the cornerback position early in the draft, it seems that Arians and the Buccaneers have a world of confidence in the guys currently on the roster. In the words of Hargreaves: “Let’s get after it.”