During the annual Coaches Breakfast at the NFL Owners Meeting in Arizona, Bucs head coach Bruce Arians shared the team’s plans to use cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III exclusively as an outside cornerback this year rather than inside in the slot as a nickel cornerback. Tampa Bay plans to start Hargreaves, who is entering his fourth season, and second-year cornerback Carlton Davis outside and find a player that can play in the slot in nickel situations.
Hargreaves, the team’s first-round pick in 2016, played outside cornerback during his rookie season and then transitioned to playing both inside and outside during the last two years – both of which ended prematurely on injured reserve. Hargreaves has started 25 of the 26 games he’s played with the Buccaneers, including all 16 during a trial-by-fire rookie season in which surrendered more receiving yards than any other NFL cornerback that year.
Hargreaves had 76 tackles, nine pass breakups and one forced fumble as a rookie before struggling with confidence issues and an injured hamstring in 2017. After totaling 42 tackles and five pass breakups in nine games, Hargreaves was placed on injured reserve.
The 2018 season began with much hope and optimism as Hargreaves played with renewed confidence during training camp and the preseason playing both inside and outside cornerback. But after recording seven tackles and one forced fumble in Tampa Bay’s 45-42 win at New Orleans in Week 1, Hargreaves suffered a season-ending shoulder injury and was placed on injured reserve.
PewterReport.com has learned that the new Bucs coaching staff loves Hargreaves’ tape and believes that if he can stay healthy, the former Florida star can live up to his potential and his first-round draft billing in the final year of his rookie contract. Todd Bowles’ defensive scheme calls for a good deal of aggressive man-to-man coverage, which should play to Hargreaves’ strength, as opposed to the amount of off-coverage that the Bucs played under former defensive coordinator Mike Smith.