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Sikkema’s Stat of the Week

By now, most of you know that I’m an NFL Draft nut. Every year since about the time of my middle school days, the ingredients of Draft Weekend, for me, have been me parking myself on a couch, ordering takeout food (or having my mom bring me food back in the day) and watching every single pick I could. That borderline obsessive mindset brought me to be involved in all kinds of discussions with friends, written mock drafts of my own and even job opportunities I have now.

I’ve seen a lot of NFL Drafts since then, but nothing, and I mean nothing, was or ever will be like the half hour before the 2016 NFL Draft when a video was leaked on Twitter that showed highly-touted prospect Laremy Tunsil smoking weed through a gas mask.

I was almost too shocked to react. I think I laughed hysterically, at first, because there were so many elements to the video (the mask, Tunsil’s reaction, the fact that there were these flags in the background) that made it funny. But, of course, I couldn’t help but think of what this was about to do to Tunsil’s draft stock, too. Tunsil was thought of to be a Top 3 player in the class, and as we all reacted on Twitter, the world and the NFL began to get notice of it, too, which did, in fact, cause Tunsil to slide in the draft all the way to No. 13 where he was selected by the Miami Dolphins.

As the dust began to settle on the whole incident, at least from the initial wave of it, myself and others couldn’t help but think, “How in the world did that video make it to the Internet?”

Why does any of this matter for the Buccaneers? Well, because one of their own, cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, has just had a similar video leak of him smoking an unknown substance – though not through a gas mask.

Bucs CB Vernon Hargreaves III - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs CB Vernon Hargreaves III – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

So, now that we don’t have to be as vague with things in a breaking news article, let’s get down to business on what this video could mean, will mean and anything about Hargreaves’ situation moving forward.

First off, yes, it looks like Hargreaves could be smoking pot, although it’s impossible to tell and we’re not going to accuse him of anything definitive. Second, I could care less about the fabricated negative outcomes of a grown adult human being doing something harmless on their own time whether that be watch TV, taking dance classes, drinking at a local bar, woodworking with stock cars, smoking weed, drag racing at a nearby track, recreational fishing, becoming a home-brewer or learning a second language. It does not matter. I do not care. None of those things have anything to do with each other and I listed them as such on purpose because interests and preferences among human beings can be vast and all still okay when enjoyed appropriately.

Now, for Hargreaves, a professional athlete, it’s a little bit different, at least as of today.

Hargreaves is employed by the National Football League, and even in the states in which marijuana is becoming decriminalized or used for medical purposes, athletes under contract are still prohibited from having any kind of banned substance in their system, which includes marijuana. The league has “random” drug tests in place to ensure that is not happening.

Now, do football players employed by the NFL still smoke weed? Yes, some do. It happens all the time – the NFL knows that, too, and yet they don’t enforce their own rule as much as they could because they know it’s not that big of a deal and really is more of a PR rule for sponsors and shielded appeal and enforcing it to its maximum would actually do more harm than good. But, oh, wait, I’m getting down the corrupted rabbit hole here. Sorry I’ll get back on track.

Your favorite players could smoke weed. I hope that’s not breaking news to you.

For Hargreaves, however, there is a lesson. The main one: don’t film yourself doing it or let yourself get filmed. I’m all for these athletes being treated as much like normal people and being allowed to live normal lives as much as anyone, but there comes a point in that to where you’re not a normal person; you are in the spotlight.

Bucs GM Jason Licht, CB Vernon Hargreaves & HC Dirk Koetter - Photo by Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs GM Jason Licht, CB Vernon Hargreaves & HC Dirk Koetter – Photo by Cliff Welch/PR

I don’t know where that video came from and I don’t know who posted it. But, it was obviously someone who obtained the video either from him or from a friend who posted it anonymously (likely after a blackmail attempt) because Hargreaves has a lot to lose. As a former first-round pick, Hargreaves is the one with the money, the platform and the lifestyle. Many football players have spoken about the positive uses of marijuana both on their body and brain after enduring such a violent, traumatizing game week-in and week-out, so if nothing else I understand the desire to use it there. But, don’t film yourself doing something illegal, man. And don’t text it to someone.

Marijuana is being decriminalized for a variety of different reasons at varying levels all over the country. States like Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington have all legalized the recreational use of marijuana. States like Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia have all decriminalized its uses for medical purposes.

I list all of those states to say that this is not nearly as big of a deal now as it used to be. The public thinks that, the lawmakers think that, and you know who else is starting to think that? People in NFL offices. When was the last time you heard an NFL player was being suspended over marijuana usage?

From talking to different people on the other side of the business, they’re well aware that probably half the league’s population smokes weed. The reason I bring that part up is because many people have been reacting to the Hargreaves video like he’s going to get cut or traded or something. Hargreaves isn’t going anywhere right now. The need for this team to draft or add to the defensive back existed before this video came out and it still exists now, but in both a best case and worst case scenario for this situation, Hargreaves will still be on the Buccaneers come Week 1.

Bucs CB Vernon Hargreaves - Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR

Bucs CB Vernon Hargreaves – Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR

Hargreaves’ struggles as an outside cornerback have been well documented. In his rookies season, he gave up the most catches and the most yards out of any cornerback in football. This was sort of to be expected with a rookie cornerback on one side and Brent Grimes on the other. Teams were obviously going to try to get their best receivers lined up against Hargreaves and go at him.

The 2017 season didn’t start out much better for Hargreaves. He notably got torched by the Vikings’ passing attack and looked helpless against the Arizona Cardinals, as well. But, once he was move to the nickel cornerback position, he played well. In his first week on assignment in the slot, Hargreaves had four passes thrown his way and yielded zero catches with zero missed tackles, too, against the Buffalo Bills.

The following week against the Carolina Panthers, Hargreaves gave up just two catches for 13 yards on the seven passes thrown his way, once again in the slot. Next, against the Saints, as most of the defense had a rough day, Hargreaves did not. He was targeted three times and allowed just two passes to be caught for a total of just eight yards and a 70.1 passer rating when targeted.

Those were the only three games that we got to see of Hargreaves in the slot, as he injured his hamstring the following week against the Jets and missed the remainder of the season. So, if we go off that, there was a lot of promise there, plenty of promise for the team not to move on from him due to a leaked video of him smoking something that could be marijuana. We also don’t even know the date of the video. It could be much older than this offseason. It could have been made before he entered the NFL.

In the grand scheme of things, drafting a nickel cornerback No. 11 overall isn’t great value, but Hargreaves is on the team now and it’s organization’s job to put him in the best position. His career is salvageable, and the Bucs were in nickel defense about 65 percent of the time last year. That’s about two-thirds of any game.

Leaked video, date of the video, substance of the video aside, Hargreaves isn’t going anywhere this offseason – and he shouldn’t.

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About the Author: Trevor Sikkema

Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: trevor@pewterreport.com
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FLBoy84
3 years ago

Contrary to the old adage, when things ARE broke, you need to fix it. Think you’ve written on this before Trevor, but outside of Grimes it seems most of our DB’s would benefit from a more aggressive coverage scheme to take advantage of their skill sets. If things remain the same Trevor, which CB’s do you see as a fit for our more zone-based scheme? Personally could care less what Hargreaves does in his spare time, more disappointed he was dumb enough to be filming it. Not ready to write him off as just a slot-CB, believe he can still… Read more »

edwamil83
Reply to  Trevor Sikkema
3 years ago

Isn’t Josh Jackson the best corner for our scheme?

toofamiliar17
Reply to  FLBoy84
3 years ago

Been saying this for a long time. Hargreaves could excel outside in most man coverage schemes, as well as any zone scheme that puts him near the LOS, i.e. a cover 2 base defense. Due to his lack of elite speed and his height, he’s roughly the exact opposite of the type of corner who can shine in a quarters or cover 3 concept with little to no help over the top.

Wausa
3 years ago

Trevor, Nice article. I agree that Ward looks like an outstanding prospect even with his size limitations, but there should be better options for the Bucs at pick 7. For me a top 10 pick in the draft is dominant at the highest level of college football, has great size and speed and is a potential team captain: Bradley Chubb, Quenton Nelson, Derwin James and Saquan Barkley all fit my above description of a top 10 pick. If the Bucs stay where they are the pick should be one of those four young men. If the Bucs trade back with… Read more »

toofamiliar17
Reply to  Wausa
3 years ago

I actually don’t know that I’d put Chubb in that group. If you compare him to DEs taken in past drafts, he’d be the second or 3rd best DE in most of them. Last year, he’d have come in behind both Myles Garrett and Solomon Thomas. The year before, at least Joey Bosa would have been ahead of him. In 2015, he gets beat out by Leonard Williams. 2014, it was Jadeveon Clowney AND Khalil Mack. 2013 featured Ezekiel Ansah, who he MAY have beaten out as a prospect, and Dion Jordan, who I always felt the Dolphins horribly overvalued.… Read more »

Hank Scorpio
3 years ago

Let me preface this by saying that I hate our secondary scheme and think that no matter who we have out there covering WRs, as long as we run the same scheme we’ve run the last 2 years, it will have minimal impact. With that said, I would love to see us grab a CB somewhere in the first 2 rds. Especially someone like Isaiah Oliver who has elite length so that whenever we switch to a scheme that allows for more press on the outside, we’ll already have a CB1 equipped to run it. In that same light, I’m… Read more »

FLBoy84
Reply to  Hank Scorpio
3 years ago

Completely agree Hank, but do you think Smith is flexible enough to make that change though?

toofamiliar17
Reply to  Hank Scorpio
3 years ago

And what’s funny is that Grimes would also excel in a scheme like that.

So it’s not like we’re screwed either way. There are ways this defensive backfield could be deployed that would result in strong play from BOTH of our top 2 corners. But as of yet, we’ve apparently been unwilling to utilize such an approach.

plopes808
Reply to  Hank Scorpio
3 years ago

Buckner’s D-Line will put enough pressure on QBs to improve our secondary regardless of scheme. But imagine if our secondary switched to more tight man coverage…pair that with the increased QB pressure and we could be looking at a huge leap on defense. Smith lead a pretty good defense 2 years ago, not sure what the deal was last year. If he’s flexible enough to make some tweaks we should be looking at a good defense this year. Our O-line should be improved as well and picking up a good RB1 in the draft should help alleviate the pressure on… Read more »

plopes808
3 years ago

In regard to Ward, I think he’s a very good player but his size limitations are too dangerous for us to take him, especially in the top 10. I feel he is comparable to Grimes and Hargreaves in that he has very good reaction, balance, and ball skills. But in this league, and especially in the NFC South, when all else is equal, SIZE WINS. I just don’t see how we can come out every week with 3 5′ 10″ corners. If we had a good sized corner with Grimes’ skill, I’d feel ok taking Ward as a #2, but… Read more »

kram0789
3 years ago

I think Ward is a legitimate 7th pick. He has the game and he has a special physical attribute, SPEED. Speed of this quality is lacking in the Bucs defense. He would be a special ingredient. I would not expect him to play against the extra big recievers, unless they were also extra fast. He would be used primarily against the fastest receiver on the field and could shut him down. Of course corner back is a huge need for the last place pass defense. Hargreaves may never be a starter on the outside and Grimes is at the age… Read more »

Cody
3 years ago

I think Ward has little man syndrome and that’s a good thing.

chefboho
3 years ago

I agree with the early posters. He’s very talented and is a great press corner which we seem unable to play in Smith’s lack luster defense. Ward is an extreme talent but the problem is our defensive coordinator doesn’t seem to take advantage of our players strengths and instead tries to make them something their not. Until he adjusts to the players, wards skills will be wasted just like heargreves is

surferdudes
3 years ago

I think your assessment of Ward is spot on Trever, to many big targets in our division, he’ll get worked. I thought the same of V3, still do, hope he works out as our nick back for years to come. Get a corner or two, third round down, this draft if supposed to be deep that way. Find a player with the right measurables to develop. The Bucs are going to have to bring a vet F.A. in to start the season, don’t see anyway around it. I think Ward is a reach at seven, and if drafted will struggle… Read more »

Buc 1976
3 years ago

Ward looks like a good player but #7 is a reach IMO.
BUCS REALLY need to trade down like inside top 15. We really have needs at RB,DL, and DB. With a trade we hopefully can fill them all.

toofamiliar17
Reply to  Buc 1976
3 years ago

That would be ideal. With the way this draft is set up, I wouldn’t want to go further than 12, I don’t think. That’s not to say that going lower isn’t a possibility to which I’d be open if the offer was right, but it wouldn’t be ideal. If we could somehow move back 5 or fewer spots and acquire at least one extra day one or day two pick, I’d be ecstatic. With three or four picks in the first two days of this draft, I think the board is, coincidentally, likely to line up very well with our… Read more »

Dman
3 years ago

I think corner is one of the toughest positions to evaluate at the college level since NFL size and speed at WR is so much different. Not to say Ward won’t be a great player in the league, just that the risk is much higher, especially at 5’10” AND with short arms. We need multiple corners so my preference is to get some of these guys that are taller, longer in later rounds. Even if we trade down, that to me is an opportunity to get DT Vita Vea, DE Davenport or OT McGlinchey.

toofamiliar17
Reply to  Dman
3 years ago

Those are three of my least favorite players for where they’re likely to be picked, lol. Funny coincidence.

Phattitudes
3 years ago

Short corners just don’t match up well with tall receivers. Their athletic prowess makes them look appealing, but physics is physics. There is just too much risk to take one early on. Trouble is the majority of college corners are short (5’10” or less). It is very hard to find a taller one who can match up athletically, and any you do find tend to be over valued because of their height. This year’s draft offers up Josh Jackson (6’1″), Isaiah Oliver (6’1″) and Holton Hill (6’3″) as the “tall” corner options in round 1 and early on in round… Read more »

Scott Dixon
Reply to  Phattitudes
3 years ago

I find it how homerism plays a part in a lot of peoples wish list and Yes, I am also victim to this being an Alabama homer since I could walk and that’s been over 50 years now. I keep reading these wishes for Derwin James and Denzel Ward. They’re both great CB’s, but it bothers me with their lack of splash plays and production. In 3 years at FSU as a starter James had 2 Int’s total. In 3 years as a staring DB for Ohio State Ward had 1 Int in 3 years. Minkah Fitzpatrick at Bama for… Read more »

cgmaster27
Reply to  Scott Dixon
3 years ago

You make good points scott, but I don’t think splash plays in college are indicative of much in the sense of corners. Let’s face it, Mikah had a better front seven in front of him than any other college DB in football. Rushed passes leads to picks. And not only that but picks sometimes are a lot of just being in the right place at the right time. Heck even Jalen Ramsey came out with 1 pick in college and is a top 5 DB in the league now. My problem with Mikah is he won’t be a corner on… Read more »

Devasher
Reply to  cgmaster27
3 years ago

Derwin James wasn’t a corner, so his lack of turnovers was certainly more of a problem. Jalen Ramey on the other hand was the first true freshman to start at corner at FSU since Deon Sanders.

Jalen Ramsey had 3 INT’s in his career at FSU not 1 cgmaster. He also was a consensus all-american his 3rd and final year, no such luck for Derwin. You follow FSU much? :P

cgmaster27
Reply to  Devasher
3 years ago

SO how when James plays safety, which sees less passes than a cornerback’s TO’s more of a problem? And James was used closer to the line of scrimmage than Jalen. DO you even watch FSU? And regardless of the number slip on my part, the knock everyone had with Ramsey was his lack of picks. That’s a fact. And you don’t think the fact that FSU kinda sucked this year had anything to do with all american voting? What exactly does that have to do with me watching FSU? We get it, you don’t like James, that’s fine with me.… Read more »

Charlie
3 years ago

Spot on about both VH3 and Ward, hopefully Mike Smith adjusts his scheme to be more aggressive this year. Try him outside for a couple games, see how he does. If it’s still a dumpster fire then put him back inside. As far as him smoking, assuming it is just marijuana, no big deal. It is proven to help with pain management.

Ward would without a doubt get bullied week in and week out in the NFL, OUR division especially. Can’t pick em, would much rather have Darwin James if we go with a DB Rd1.

makski
Reply to  Trevor Sikkema
3 years ago

Hey Trevor, I too agree with some of the posters at the top of the board. If we insist on running so much off coverage and zone, why on earth are we even talking about who the best cover corner in the draft is??? I think Hargraves as a second starter and Smith as a third CB are just fine as long as we change the Defense! Hargraves always looks better in spring training because, in practice, it is all one on ones! That’s what he’s good at. Then the games start and we play a super relaxed zone and… Read more »

makski
Reply to  Trevor Sikkema
3 years ago

Thanks Trevor! I appreciate the response. I would like almost any position other than CB early, especially if we play lots of off coverage again. I just hope we are a little more aggressive this year. Maybe Buckner will rub off a little on Smith! HaHa, we can only hope.

BadgerW4
3 years ago

I like Ward, actually, but not at 7. This draft is incredibly deep at CB. There are even guys I think have a legitimate shot to be significant contributors all the way into the 4th and 5th rounds there (I really like Greg Stroman from VaTech… If he weren’t rail thin, I think he’d be a first rounder). I love Ward’s speed, but if you look at the PFF numbers, Ward hasn’t done as well as you’d think. I’d actually prefer Josh Jackson and maybe even Jaire Alexander at this point to Ward. I also thought Brett Kollman’s piece on… Read more »

cgmaster27
3 years ago

When it comes to the Hargreaves incident, I could care less about the pot. It should be legal everywhere at this point, but as others have stated, it’s against league rules. And for that it’s pretty risky doing it. But As Trevor stated and I stated before, that could be an old video for all we know. I think he was clearly playing much better in the slot and but could be his position of strength. I mean Nickle corners are on the field a lot now so it would help. As for Ward at 7, that’s a big hell… Read more »

Honey Bear
3 years ago

Trevor, great stuff! Questions:

1) How is Denzel Ward different from Vh3 coming out of college?

2) On a previous Cover 3, you provided ample evidence that much of VH3’s struggles we’re scheme related and not utilizing his talent. Why should we expect different results with Ward?

Love you bud!

makski
Reply to  Honey Bear
3 years ago

Honey Bear, I totally agree with you on the scheme fit problem. I even have a post asking Trevor the same question. (Except mine was MUCH longer). I think our scheme is hurting our corners not named Grimes. We need to play much more aggressive on the outside, teams are just tearing us apart. I know they think it will be much better with the better pressure we are expected to have this year but I think the QB’s will just adjust and hit the 7-15 yard passes instead of the 10-25 yard passes.

martinii
3 years ago

It seems we’ve been down the path before. That old argument about the size of the wide receivers vrs. the height of the Corners and Safeties. You have your Mark Dupers, Mark Claytons, Steve Smith, Lance Alworth, Paul Warfield, Lynn Swann, et.al on one hand and the Randy Moss, Dez Bryant, Julio Jones, Megatron, Jerry Rice, et.al on the other. On the other side of the ball Ronde Barber, Richard Sherman, Deon Sanders, John Lynch, Darrelle Revis, Ronnie Lott, Charles Woodson, Jack Tatum, et.al defended them. I do not subscribe to the theory that small DB’s are more vulnerable to… Read more »

Bucsfan1983
3 years ago

Ward is a 1st round talent, no doubt. But not at #7, at 5’10” 185

Schwifty9
Reply to  Trevor Sikkema
3 years ago

Correct me if I’m wrong, but you’re the same genius talent scout that was basically saying Beckwith was garbage and was going to get exposed in the NFL.

Dman
3 years ago

Ward hit on the Maryland WR reminds me of the Jadeveon Clowney hit on the Michigan running back in the Outback Bowl. Forever highlight reel shot. Don’t ever remember Hargraves making that kind of stop.

GoldsonAges
3 years ago

Great article Trevor. I love the way you balanced out his positives with his negatives. If he was 3 inches taller and 20 pounds heavier he would be a top 5 prospect, but I agree with your analysis that due to his size he is too big a risk at No.7

Horse
3 years ago

Trevor, bottom line for me? Nothing will improve on Defence until Smith changes his ways as to CB’s playing closer to LOS.

geno711
3 years ago

1st – I would say that VH3 at the 11th overall pick in 2016 looks weak for us Bucs fans. Yet, you look back at that draft and picks after the Bucs in the 1st round and you realize that it was just a weak draft class. There were clearly hits in the later rounds like always but that first round class from 9 on was way under par. 2nd – I have no clue who will be the best corner in the draft but I would rather have a corner than a safety if all things are equal. 3rd… Read more »

Bradenton BucFan
3 years ago

Draft chubb if he falls to us,otherwise draft vita vea. get pressure on the qb. then we can press our corners, will it matter what scheme we run in the back end. if we get pressure in 3 to 4 sec. consistently

Schwifty9
3 years ago

Not really understanding the “short arms” take. His Arms are the exact same length as Marshon Lattimore and 1/8th inch shorter than Adore Jackson.

Freeman Strickland
3 years ago

The only reason that I see to take Ward in the first is as a future replacement for Grimes. All of the Buc CBs are 5-10 or 5-11. Denzel Ward is more of the same except with an elite 40 time. Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State – Height: 5-10. Weight: 183. Arm: 31.25. Hand: 8.75. 40 Time: 4.32. The talk is so often about player matchups. But, you must have some diversity before you can have meaningful matchups. Here is a scout’s quote about the last guy on the list, but it probably applies to all of them to some… Read more »

JC5100
3 years ago

Trevor, two big factors you left out in the Indiana breakdown were 1. Indiana called 73 passes. 73!! I don’t know how many were high points to Cobbs vs Ward but when I evaluated him I remember it being a lot. It’s not a realistic measurement because that is never going to happen in an NFL game, EVER. 2. Why is there no breakdown of his INT when he went up and snagged a jump ball? For people saying he’s not worth #7, I have him as my #2 player in the draft and he’s going to go top 10.… Read more »

JC5100
Reply to  Trevor Sikkema
3 years ago

I thought the pick vs Indiana was thrown higher, maybe the QB was attempting to but just didn’t enough air on it. That’s what I was talking about. There’s a breakdown of every pass at Ward in that game from cleveland.com.

http://www.cleveland.com/osu/2017/09/what_happened_the_18_times_ind.html

Going at Ward, Indiana was 8/18, 58 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT with 1 PI. That’s a 47.9 NFL QB rating.

Brandonges
3 years ago

Unrelated to the article, but Trevor, you COULDN’T care less about the fabricated negative outcomes of a grown adult human being doing something harmless on their own time. Sorry to be “that guy”, but it’s all too common of a mistake and a major pet peeve.

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