The Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Florida CB Vernon Hargreaves III with the No. 11 pick in the 2016 NFL draft.
Many mocks had Hargreaves to the Bucs, given their issues at cornerback in 2015, and full marks to them for giving the Bears their ninth-overall pick and still getting their man. Hargreaves is an aggressive, athletic player with a no-fear attitude in run support. He's also one of the best pattern-readers in this class, which will help him against better receivers. On the downside, he does get beaten deep, and there are concerns about his height (5' 10"). But he's matched up against the best the SEC has to offer, and he has the potential to do the same in the NFL.
Strengths: Freakishly agile player who crouches low in his stance to reduce unnecessary motion and springs into coverage in a flash. Exceptional stride length and quickness, turning quickly to zero in on the catch. Sets the angle on crossing routes, putting himself in a better position to catch the ball than the receiver in some cases. Quick and natural backpedal allows him to keep the action in front of him and adjust easily when contested on intermediate and deep passes. Plants and fires to the ballcarrier, reducing yards after catch. Switches gears very well—his recovery speed is among the best in this draft class. Highly aware player who obviously studies tendencies and knows where the ball is going. Plays and acts like he’s a few inches taller than he really is.
Aggressiveness and short-area quickness make him a natural in press coverage—he gets a good punch at the line and will mirror routes from start to finish. Has no issue transitioning from press man to bail coverage, and doesn’t fall apart on comebacks and quick angles. Natural pattern-matcher when his head is in the game. Will easily drop off his assignment to help in zone coverage. Smooth tracker who stays with receivers very well through their routes, and has a natural feel for pinning opponents to the boundary with inside position. Fearless in run support—he has absolutely no compunction about throwing his body around against bigger players and loves to mix it up. Can move from centerfield or deep thirds to the line to make a tackle in the blink of an eye. Expertly hides his blitzing intentions with coverage looks and then blasts into the backfield. Baits quarterbacks well, enticing them to throw to routes he is ready to jump, and gets a ton of pass breakups this way. Has the foot movement and field awareness to play the slot. Presents value as a return man. Well-built player with a big chest and good musculature—should be able to hold up well playing as physically as he does.
Weaknesses: Hargreaves is strong for his size, but he’ll get overwhelmed at times by bigger receivers, who will push him out of the picture and win 50-50 catches. Can get killed on double moves and gives up big plays more on technique lapses than pure speed issues—per Pro Football Focus, he allowed 380 yards on 24 catches in 2015. Good speed all over the field, but isn’t always able to track with speed receivers on vertical routes. Aggressiveness is both a blessing and a curse: Hargreaves can be taken out of his assignments too easily at times, and he’ll dive for tackles when he should use correct form to stop the play. In press, he’ll sometimes be too concerned with imposing his physicality and lose the first few steps of the route, forcing him to recover. Height could be an issue as a No. 1 NFL outside cornerback. Needs work as a space player—Hargreaves has more spatial awareness when he has a target in mind, and if he’s asked to patrol the slot in the NFL, that needs fixing.