NFL.com’s Gil Brandt put out his All-Rookie team, and two Tampa Bay Buccaneers made his list. Those two players: defensive end Noah Spence, and cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, the team’s second- and first-round picks respectively.
A situational pass rusher who was limited to three starts as a rookie, Spence nonetheless contributed 5.5 sacks and 12 quarterback hits. I think he'll be a steady professional in the years to come.
Brandt neglects the most impressive part of Spence’s play: he had his shoulder in a sling for most of the season, playing through an injury that visibly bothered him on the field. If he can do that as a rookie, while injured, imagine how good he’s going to be with more experience and when he’s healthy.
As for Hargreaves, Brandt was really impressed.
Hargreaves was targeted 114 times and gave up touchdowns on just two of his burns. He's a really good man-coverage guy, and it's very hard to get separation against him.
This is, I think, a little too optimistic a reading of Hargreaves’ rookie season, which was very up-and-down. He had good games and certainly plenty of good individual plays, but he also struggled against plenty of receivers, especially the bigger ones.
That’s no surprise and not really a problem, either: defensive backs almost always struggle as rookies, it may be the hardest defensive position to translate directly to the NFL, and the fact that Hargreaves struggled doesn’t say much about his longer-term development. But we shouldn’t overstate his rookie performance, which wasn’t as outstanding as Brandt makes it seem.
One player who didn’t make the team: kicker Roberto Aguayo, a second-round pick as well. Ooooops.