Dirk Koetter and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were looking to make a splash on the defensive side of the football in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Little did they expect that one of the best defensive backs would still be available when they came on the clock. It was a drama-filled first round, but the drama worked out perfectly for the Buccaneers.
Vernon Hargreaves III ended up being the Buccaneers’ pick, and it was a massive upgrade for their defense.
Tampa Bay has to feel very good about the way that their first round went. There weren’t many analysts who gave Hargreaves a chance to drop that far. Many thought he would be in the top 10, and some even had him in the top five. Instead, he fell into what could end up being the best fit that he could have asked for.
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@TBBuccaneers) April 29, 2016
Looking ahead at the upcoming NFL season, there is a good chance that Hargreaves will be asked to handle a starting job. He will have to earn it throughout training camp and preseason action, but he certainly has the potential to earn it and have a large role in his first season.
Mike Mayock of the NFL Network chimed in with his thoughts on Hargreaves’ fit with the Buccaneers and complimented the Buccaneers’ ability to move back and get their man along with other assets.
“Tampa Bay moves back a couple of slots, and take a guy they would have selected at No. 9 and get a couple picks in the process. Hargreaves has the best corner feet I’ve seen in the draft in the past two or three years. The only knock is that he has poor eye discipline.”
During the 2015 college football season with the Florida Gators, Hargreaves ended up recording 33 total tackles, four interceptions, four defensed passes, and a forced fumble. There are some flaws in his game as well, but those flaws can be fixed by an NFL coaching staff.
Koetter is one of the most underrated head coaches in the entire NFL. He obviously saw something he liked in Hargreaves, and management agreed. Having a coach like Koetter is going to help Hargreaves get off to a much quicker start in 2016 and will help him understand and learn the game much quicker.
Gruden: "I like this pick, Mel."
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) April 29, 2016
There have been some critics that have talked about his devotion to the game and will to win. At times throughout his college career, it appeared that Hargreaves gave up on plays too early. Whether that was the case or not, he was still able to play well enough to get himself close to the top of almost every teams draft boards.
It has been quite some time since Tampa Bay was viewed as an NFC playoff contender. After selecting Jameis Winston with the No. 1 overall pick in last years NFL Draft, the Buccaneers have to feel good heading into the 2016 season. They have made the right moves to get back to being a competitive football team.
Tampa Bay is without question a legitimate team to keep an eye on. They may not end up making the postseason in 2016, but they aren’t going to be a pushover team anymore.
Expect to see Hargreaves work his way into a big role in 2016 and to show why the Buccaneers coveted him. He has the potential to become a No. 1 corner in the NFL, but it will take a lot of hard work to do so.
Do you think the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made the right choice by drafting Vernon Hargreaves III with the No. 11 overall pick? What do you think fans should expect from him in his rookie season? Let us know in the comment box below!
[AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast]