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.

Bucs QB Vernon Hargreaves - Photo by: Getty Images
Bucs CB Vernon Hargreaves – Photo by: Getty Images

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.

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Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]

26 COMMENTS

  1. VH3 in press man to man? Let’s Go!

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  2. Hargreaves is a better DB than most people think.

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  3. Sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. The guy is fucking tiny!

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  4. LOL. The photo above of that INT was taken during a preseason game in Vernon’s second year when we were told he was going to be allowed to play a lot more aggressively. He then played the rest of the year in off coverage by either the plan or his own desire.
    One thing is for certain, you don’t draft a CB with a No. 1 pick for him to play nickel coverage.
    I hope Vernon does succeed. The CB taken by the Giants before him was traded to the Saints and his play improved considerably under a different coaching staff.
    ASJ suffered a near season ending injury in New Orleans in much the same manner as Vernon. Either that or he never sobered up on those benders he used to go on with BucAssBob.
    Fortunately for ASJ, the Bucs waived him and he was able to get away from the evil clutches of his drinking pal and I understand he has sobered up. I hope he stays that way.

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  5. So was Brent Grimes…Pro Bowl Corner before Tampa of Course

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  6. Like the idea, seems to play more to his strengths. Did seem to lack some maturity when he arrived, but hopefully with a new staff and some renewed confidence he can ball out this year.

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  7. He has lots potential if can stay healthy. Smith was an idiot with the playing off 12-15 yards nonsense. Set our all secondary and defense up for failure when combined with no pass rush. That’s why they played better with Duffner.

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  8. Hoping he has been working hard on strength and conditioning this off season.

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  9. Draft day (& before) they said short & slow w/ great technique. That’s Dieon’s words. Bucs drafted a slot CB in the top 10. Is what it is. Trouble is Pewter Scott bullied up the kid’s aggresiveness. Big legs, power, downhill tackle guy. Maybe true, but durable wasn’t on that list. So none of it matters. Not this draft, ok? But my fingers ache from typing this over & over. Our 2ndary is doo doo. Julio owns the Bucs. & so too do many others. Pass rush for sure. I’m on board. Playoffs?? Winning in the playoffs? Talk your talk, just say’n, watch out for that doo doo while you’re walking in the yard.

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  10. Gonna hope this is a scheme thing, that he will play better in press coverage. But his physical shortcomings were exposed in Smith’s soft coverage, and you can’t teach speed. I think he is better suited to the nickel as he seems more quick than fast, and is a little longer than some slot guys. Time is ticking on this guy, if BA throws him to the fire I hope he doesn’t go up in smoke. Kid really doesn’t seem like an alpha corner to me, but I guess we will find out soon enough.

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  11. I like the move. Hopefully he can stay healthy, confident, and flourish under Bowles. It’s always chapped my ass that we had a high 1st rounder playing nickel. Hopefully he’s up for the challenge.

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  12. I’ve been cheering for Hargreaves since he was drafted. I think he’s got the potential to be an elite CB in this league, but he’s got to stay healthy. The best of all possible roads to success was opened up for him when Licht hired Arians and Bowles. No excuses this year VH3 – show us that potential people like me have seen in you!!!

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  13. SMH…so they take him away from the only thing he’s good at given his limited size and speed and move him to the only thing he’s bad at. I don’t like the moves of this new coaching staff but I was never a fan of Arians’ overall body of work or his coaching staff during his time in Arizona. So far not much has changed.

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  14. Seems like we keep doing different things with the same players hoping for better results. When I first saw new role for VH I was hoping they made him G.M.!

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  15. Contract year upcoming for VHIII although the Bucs can pick up his 5th year option. I’m not sure how well he will transition to the outside, but I guarantee you he needs to stay healthy to remain a Buc.

    Keep the hammy’s loose!!

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  16. Not worried about VHIII’s speed. Ronde Barber had only average speed and size. He did okay.

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  17. This is great to hear. The last regime seemed to move guys around trying to get them to fit their scheme – both on O and D. Rather than fit the scheme to the players, they tried to change guys and it obviously didn’t work.

    If VH3 and Davis can form a reliable outside CB tandem, this is huge. This is also giving me a sliver of confidence that the new regime of coaches can get more out of some of the younger guys on the roster – Cappa would be another great transformation. Coaching up all the young guys we drafted into the defensive backfield would be huge as well.

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  18. Ronde played inside, that is the difference. Hard to be a big time corner with average or below average speed. Maybe if you were big and physical, and VHIII isn’t that.

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  19. New Bucs coaching staff doesn’t look at size at boundary CB. They look at press skills and ability of a CB to flip their hips.

    VH3 has press skills along with Davis. Harris and Smith are more better suited for m2m anyways but I haven’t watched their press skills closely so I don’t know how they would fair in press play!

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  20. You don’t have to be fast to be a great CB. Bowles will use VH3 correctly. D Sanders is no scout that’s for sure.lol

    Article by Glenn McGraw

    Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III laced up the shoes and took his turn at the 40-yard dash on Monday.
    Widely considered the best pure cornerback prospect in the draft, Hargreaves clocked unofficial times of 4.41 and 4.43 in his first two runs. His official 40-yard dash time came in at 4.50 seconds.

    When you stack Hargreaves up against some of the NFL’s top cornerbacks, he ranks pretty well. Richard Sherman ran a 4.56 40-yard dash in 2011. Josh Norman was clocked at a 4.66 in 2012. And of course, Patrick Peterson up a 4.34 to top the group.

    Sherman is making just less than $15 million per year while Peterson gets about $13 million per year, and Norman is about to get a big pay increase after the season he put up. So, you could argue Hargreaves may be next in line as one of the NFL’s highest paid corners.

    Hargreaves has the hip movement and footwork to be a lockdown corner at the next level, and while the speed he flashed in the 40-yard dash isn’t supernatural, it shouldn’t drop him out of the top-10 picks in the 2016 NFL Draft.

    His ballhawking ability has NFL general managers in need of secondary help drooling. Hargreaves recorded 10 career interceptions while at Florida, and he consistently played on an island, matched up against opposing teams’ top wideouts.

    Current projections show Hargreaves and Florida State’s Jalen Ramsey as the top two defensive backs in the NFL Draft. But Ramsey is expected to convert to safety while Hargreaves is a true corner.

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  21. @thejerseybuc, Ronde played outside in base, moved inside in nickel.

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  22. Barber is extremely bright. How often has what Barber did been duplicated with the dozens of CB’s that come out of college every year both before and since Barber? Especially CB’s of his size and speed? Almost none, because you have to be extremely, bright, agile and tough to do what Barber did. I’d say it’s on the order of 1 in 100.

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  23. So it pretty much confirms what the team considers as team needs that need immediate attention. Nickel corner back, right tackle and right guard are obvious areas of improvement.

    Linebacker, third down RB, and safety are all bonuses that these respective position groups could be further augmented. But reading the tea leaves it seems to me the Bucs coaching staff can live with the players that fill the gaps at those respective positions (eg L. David, Minter, Bucannon, Barber, Wilson, Ellington, etc) currently.

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  24. Glad to hear this news. I think VH3 being allowed to play to his strengths bodes well for the defense as a team. Yeah, WRs like Julio Jones might have big games but when they don’t?! The point is, VH3 playing to his strengths has a greater chance of causing and facilitating turnovers for the defense as a team! The last 4 playoff teams were all top 10 in turnover differential and three of them were top 10 in takeaways.

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  25. There are plenty of successful CB’s who are under 6′-0″ and run 4.5 and higher. There are also plenty of CB’s who are considered “long” and can run fast but can’t play.

    Hargreaves displayed enough as a Gator to be considered a consensus top pick. The only thing that prevented him from living up to that standard was playing a stupid play way off the receiver scheme with no pass rush. Let’s hope some real coaching can make #28 the player we expected.

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  26. Love this, Hargreaves is only 23 years old people!! Dude flashes potential I just hope he stays healthy. He is obviously much better in press man coverage, Mike Smith was just a moron. Interested to see what happens to M.J. Stewart though, will he just be another Licht draft bust?

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