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Vernon Hargreaves could really break out in 2017

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NFL: Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been trying to build a team through the draft for years, and them some more years, and then a few more. It hasn’t quite worked out, but maybe there’s finally some traction — recent drafts have at least delivered some quality building blocks like Mike Evans and Jameis Winston.

Last year’s draft was more of a mixed bag. Kicker Roberto Aguayo has been nothing but a disappointment, while defensive end Noah Spence struggled with injury and was always a project, while first-round cornerback Vernon Hargreaves had an up-and-down season.

Good news: ESPN’s Matt Bowen tagged Hargreaves as one of his 2016 rookies who are most likely to break out in 2017.

Hargreaves doesn't have the top-tier size (5-10, 204 pounds) or speed (4.50-second 40-yard dash), but I would want this guy in my secondary because he competes. Just look at his ability to close on the route, play the ball and finish. In 2016, Hargreaves posted 76 combined tackles, one interception and eight passes broken up, but I expect those numbers to jump in Year 2. Like Apple, the Bucs cornerback will have to continue developing his technique, but the overall skill set? It's there. And he's tough.

Hargreaves showed a lot of potential last year, but also struggled at times, especially against bigger receivers. His competitiveness and ability to transition from backpedal to driving on the ball definitely stood out — he just needs to marry that to a better understanding of offense, and quicker reactions.

All of that Hargreaves could learn from Grimes, who is a very similar player — if a bit more athletic, and a lot older. That’s probably the upside of Hargreaves, but even if he doesn’t develop into Grimes 2.0, Hargreaves is still likely to have a long career. His tenacity, physicality and skillset will get him playing time throughout his NFL career.