Vernon Hargreaves III, the Buccaneers 2016 first-round choice, hardly made it a secret throughout the draft process that he wanted to play for his hometown team. The Tampa native even wore cleats at his pro day with the city’s name printed on them.
Vernon Hargreaves III: Photo by Tim Casey
So when he got the call from general manager Jason Licht at around 9:30 Thursday night, little convincing needed to be done.
“I asked him if he was ready to be a Buc.” Licht said. “And he said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ ”
Hargreaves, the son of Arkansas linebacker coach who previously had stints at USF and Miami, said he was confident all along that the Bucs would take him, even after the team traded back two spots to the 11th pick in exchange for the Bears’ fourth-rounder, pick No. 106 overall. It should be noted that the Bucs were confident, as well.
But the magnitude of the event didn’t quite sink in for Hargreaves until he got that long-awaited phone call.
“It was the best thing I ever could have asked for,” Hargreaves said, via a video conference call. “It was a dream come true.
“It doesn’t get better than to get drafted by your home team. You know, I’m forty minutes away from the facilities and it’s great. I can see my mom when I want to now, it’s awesome.”
The 5-10 corner, who finished his collegiate career with 10 interceptions despite quarterbacks often avoiding his side, enjoys the added pressure of returning home and playing in front of many familiar fans. He’ll embrace the challenge and he’s ready to take the field wherever defensive coordinator Mike Smith needs him on Sunday.
“I can adapt to any type of defense, any type of receiver,” he said, adding that the SEC gave him experience covering high-caliber, future NFL wide receivers. “I’ve covered them all. I can play bump coverage and I can play man coverage. All of that is in my game and now it’s time to perfect my craft.”
Licht would add that he’s a proven tackler who’s not afraid to play in the box, too. Hargreaves’ 121 tackles at Florida would seem to support that assessment. The former Gator drew comparisons – by Licht and Dirk Koetter – to now-teammate, Brent Grimes, and former all-time Buccaneer great Ronde Barber.
“This guy has excellent plant and drive,” Koetter said. “He’s quick, he’s tough, he can play off, he can play press, and he can play supporting the run. He can play both sides, possibly play inside at nickel. We’ll see when he gets here, but I think it’s a big win.”
In short, Tampa Bay wanted an athletic cover-corner with a certain swagger about him who could improve last year’s 17th ranked pass-defense, which allowed quarterbacks a 69.8 completion percentage. The team feels like they got that player in Vernon Hargreaves III. It’s just an “added bonus,” Licht said, that he happens to be from Tampa.
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: [email protected]
Okay the shock is over; I’m all in. Go Bucs!
I can get used to this pick, now we need the Big “O”, or Spence!
He will be a good one. A little slow and small but his stats are impressive. He is always around the ball. We need a guy who can shut down the other teams best receiver. I just hope he is ready to defend against huge receivers in our division.
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