It didn’t take long for Vernon Hargreaves III, the Bucs first-round pick, to impress his new team at practice.
After getting rave reviews from coaches at rookie minicamp for his natural footwork and athleticism, the former Gator has had a smooth transition into OTAs. With the whole team now present, the Bucs shifted from position drill-only practices to adding a little scrimmage and live-ball action to their early training. Already, Hargreaves has made a few plays that have turned the heads of his veteran teammates.
Bucs CB Vernon Hargreaves III – Photo by: Florida
“Speaking of Vernon, he had another great day like he’s been doing every day,” said cornerback Alterraun Verner, who coach Dirk Koetter also noted for having a great week of OTA practice. “I mean we just have a lot of playmakers back there, and just adding people – it’s a lot of competition and a lot of excitement.”
Hargreaves, who had 10 interceptions in three seasons at Florida, got ahold of one at last Thursday’s practice and set the tone for the rest of the secondary. It’s that kind of effort, Verner said, that challenges the rest of the defensive backs even more to add to their interception count.
“As a competitor, you don’t want to see somebody get all the picks,” Verner said, adding that playmaking is contagious. “You want to join the group. Vernon is trying to run away with it right now, but I’m pretty sure some of us are going to get it back.”
Hargreaves has been working mainly at nickel cornerback, though coaches have made it clear that they envision him at both positions. On Thursday Dirk Koetter said that plan was “exactly what we thought when we drafted him” and assured reporters that Hargreaves will definitely play a lot this season, if not start.
The head coach sung his praises again after practice, while also defending the oft-criticized stature of the Bucs’ presumptive starters at cornerback. Hargreaves, Verner and Brent Grimes all stand under 6-foot, and while that may present a problem in certain situations, Koetter reminded everyone of an important fact.
“They’re not going to grow,” he said. “I mean, you can’t complain about your players – they’re the ones you got. Those guys aren’t going to grow.
“There’s plenty of research both ways about the size in corners. There are some misnomers out there and then there are just as many corners that are 5-10 that have been successful as corners that are 6-4. We’re happy with our guys and we’re going to keep working with them.”
Verner added that it’s important for defensive rookies – speaking specifically about Hargreaves and Noah Spence – to build chemistry with the team and learn the system before camp. That way they can hit the ground running by late July.
And while OTAs are still, for the most part, underwear practice, the secondary seems to have gotten off to a solid start. Arguably the weakest unit on the team last season, the added players and new system has energized coaches and teammates, and given reason for optimism in 2016.
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]
That’s great to hear… It’s great to see so much depth in the defensive backfield. They will need it as the season wears on.
i can see 5-6 interceptions for the rookie
Yes that is great news. I hope it continues. I was not a fan of the pick, but he is one of us now and I more than anyone else hope I was wrong about him.
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