Vernon Hargreaves has been making steady progress as a rookie cornerback, and had a stellar game against the Jacksonville Jaguars: two interceptions, no catches allowed, and constantly being around the ball. One downside: he's still not playing with the first team. That won't last very long, especially so given the fact that Pro Football Focus sayshe's the highest-graded cornerback in the NFL this preseason.
Defensively, rookie CB Vernon Hargreaves III stole the show for the Buccaneers. He was targeted just three times on 11 coverage snaps, and didn't allow a catch. What's more is that he intercepted two of those targets, on both of which he had to make a play on the ball. Hargreaves has yet to allow a catch this preseason, and has picked off or broken up three of his four targets. His overall grade is the highest among corners in the NFL through two preseason weeks.
That is pretty impressive, but PFF should never be taken as gospel. Especially when it comes to defensive backs. Especially in a preseason where players are up against vastly differing levels of talent and getting very different amounts of playing time. Hargreaves has done well, especially against the Jaguars, but the best cornerback in the NFL might just be a bit much for a rookie, second-string cornerback.
The main takeaway isn't that Hargreaves is great right now because, well, he probably isn't. The takeaway is the talent level he's displaying, and the promise that holds for the future. He's been compared to Ronde Barber before, given his smooth athleticism, penchant for turnovers, physical style and relatively small size. Comparing him to the best cornerback in Bucs history is a bit much, but that is the level of play Hargreaves could eventually reach.
For now, though, we're going to be happy that he's doing well as a rookie. That's more than we can say for a lot of cornerbacks across the league.