Well, that didn’t take long. Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves is starting over veteran Alterraun Verner against the Cleveland Browns, general manager Jason Licht told Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.
Hargreaves, the Tampa Buccaneers’ first-round draft pick this year, wasn’t even practicing with the first team a few weeks ago, but two interceptions against the Jacksonville Jaguars apparently made a big impression on the team’s coaching staff. It won’t hurt that Verner hasn’t been particularly impressive this preseason, despite hopes that the new coaching staff would revitalize his career.
It’s not clear where Verner now stands: it’s possible he’ll be the team’s slot cornerback, or come in to play on the outside with Hargreaves moving to the slot in nickel situations. Or, the Bucs could keep him off the field entirely — the team could save nearly $5 million by cutting him before the start of the regular season.
Whatever the case, though, Hargreaves’ swift rise is impressive, but it’s also risky. Rookie cornerbacks tend to struggle with consistency, and that’s not what you want out of a starting cornerback on a defense that lacks speed at safety. Hopefully, Hargreaves can pay back the coaching staff’s trust with some much-needed interceptions.