The Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves with the eleventh overall pick after trading down from number nine. The question on everybody's mind: how is he going to fit this Tampa Bay defense? Hargreaves is a highly athletic and explosive receiver, but he has some height and speed limitations that could prevent him from matching up well with NFC South receivers like Kelvin Benjamin and Julio Jones.
The Bucs signed a diminutive cornerback in Brent Grimes earlier this offseason, and Grimes has had little trouble keeping up with tall receivers. Both Dirk Koetter and Jason Licht claimed that Hargreaves should be able to do the same thing: just outjump those tall guys and it'll be alright. Of course, outjumping a 6'5" receiver is a little difficult when you're only 5'10", but Hargreaves held his own when he had to do that in college.
Tampa fans, it's time to properly introduce the newest edition to the Buccaneer organization, Vernon Hargreaves III. VH3 has been destined to play at football highest level from his time as a five-star high school prospect to becoming a consensus All-American in the SEC.
What Bucs fans can expect to see from Hargreaves is a polished, competitive playmaker in the secondary. Normally when you talk about rookies you think of player who needs time to grow with technique. However, I expect Hargreaves to be pro-ready in his first year. His instincts and footwork as good as they come for a first-year player. He's had success playing both man and zone, and isn't afraid to get involved stopping the run.
Hargreaves biggest hurdle throughout his career will be his frame. At 5'10" with a limited reach, he will, at times, struggle with bigger receivers. But, to his defense, there is no player I've watched over the last three years who makes up for length like Hargreaves can. His size may limit him to a nickel or sub-package guy early on, but he's athletic enough to play multiple positions as a corner. Despite the size concerns, he's a damn good football player. Licht got a good one.
The thing that will stand out the most to Bucs fans is the bit about Hargreaves being a playmaker. The Bucs cornerbacks combined for just two interceptions last year, and one of those was made by Sterling Moore, who's no longer on the team. He and Grimes should provide a major boost to the Bucs defense in that department.
Hargreaves may not start as a rookie, but he should still get on the field a lot as a third defensive back. And in the long term, he was obviously drafted to become a starting cornerback in the mold of Brent Grimes and Ronde Barber. Those are lofty comparisons, of course, and he's not particularly likely to turn into either player. But the ceiling is high for Hargreaves, in spite of his height.