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Vernon Hargreaves III demonstrating leadership despite challenges

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The embattled cornerback has faced plenty of criticism and his head coach thinks he’s responded well.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ secondary has been the target of much criticism during Dirk Koetter’s tenure as head coach of the franchise.

While the unit as a whole has taken a solid amount of punishment from the fans and media, two of its members have taken more than most: Chris Conte and Vernon Hargreaves III.

We’ll talk about Conte later on. For now, let’s talk about VHIII.

No fan base is ever happy with every draft pick. Vita Vea has learned this fact. Before him, many questioned whether or not O.J. Howard was a pick of necessity or a pick of convenience. And then there was Hargreaves.

Plenty of people - myself included - argued the Florida product projected better as a slot defender than he did a perimeter cornerback in the NFL. And, well, you don’t typically draft slot corners in the first round.

Earlier this pre-season the third-year corner accepted the blame for the drama and speculation surrounding his career. This year is a bit more important than those previous. When the 2019 league year opens, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going to have to decide whether or not they way want to pick up his fifth-year option.

If you looked closely during the pre-season match-ups and practices, you’ve noticed he’s been playing both inside and outside as the team looks to piece together the best secondary combination they can.

Replacing him on the outside more than anyone has been rookie Carlton Davis, the Auburn product who many earmarked as Hargreaves’ replacement as soon as he was drafted in the second-round of this latest NFL Draft.

All of this can’t be easy. To be a first-round pick, from Tampa, to get selected by the Bucs just to watch three years later as they draft a guy who may potentially solidify your own demotion.

According to Dirk Koetter however, he’s responded well,

“I think Vernon has really asserted himself. Brent Grimes on the other side is not a big talker and Vernon likes to be vocal on the field, which we encourage. I mean, communication is a good thing and I think Vern has come out there every day he’s practiced and brought energy. Of course, he’s playing two positions and there’s some competition involved there – I think he’s risen to that level – and we’re happy with where he’s at right now.”

Hargreaves is always going to have to carry the label that comes with being a first-round pick. If his future exists in the slot, then he’ll face questions and comments about his being a bust for the rest of his career.

But if there’s anything he can lean on, it’s that his boss is happy. And as long as this is the case, he’ll have a place on the roster in Tampa Bay.

Poll

Are you happy with what you’ve seen from VHIII this pre-season?

This poll is closed

  • 76%
    Yes
    (224 votes)
  • 23%
    No
    (69 votes)
293 votes total Vote Now