Have you ever gone to a dress rehearsal for a Broadway show? You’re waiting patiently for the football segue. Well, the point being is if you’re a director, and you’re sure of the work you have, you’re not listening to critics as you fine-tune the performance.
The book on Vernon Hargreaves is like that dress rehearsal. The cupboard still seems bare on what the Buccaneers have in their 2016 first-round selection. He’s more a run stopper than pass defender to be honest. Hargreaves has missed five games in 2017 and 15 games in 2018. Let’s see if we can raise the curtain and get a preview.
The Early Years
The 24 year old is out of Wharton High School right here in Tampa Bay. A USA Today High School All American in 2012. Also running track at Wharton would allow Hargreaves to display his speed. Ranked by Rivals.com as the nation’s best cornerback recruit and 2nd best player overall. VH3 would also be selected MVP in the 2013 Under Armour All America game.
Hargreaves would sign with and attend the University of Florida. As a freshman, he started 10 of 12 games. He recorded 38 tackles, three interceptions and received first-team All-SEC honors at the cornerback position. As a junior, he had four interceptions, a forced fumble, four passes defended and made 33 tackles in 12 games.
Pay for play
Projected as a first-round pick in 2016, and the second-best cornerback by Mike Mayock, Hargreaves declared for the draft. The 3rd CB off the board, behind Jalen Ramsey who was selected out of FSU by the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Eli Apple, out of THE Ohio State, selected by the New York Giants.
Hargreaves was selected 11th overall by Tampa Bay. Initially third on the depth chart for the Buccaneers, he was behind Alterraun Verner and Brent Grimes. Hargreaves made his pro debut and first career start in the home opener against the Atlanta Falcons.
In Week 8 against the Oakland Raiders, he would have a season-high eight solo tackles and two pass deflections. In Week 14, the rookie would have three solo tackles, break up a pass, and record his first career interception against Drew Brees. He closed out his rookie campaign with a respectable 76 combined tackles (68 solo), nine pass deflections and an interception in 16 games. This would be Hargreaves’s only full season to date.
In 2017, Hargreaves would start to show some flashes of the speed that he’s known for. An October victory over the Giants would see VH3 record a career-high nine solo tackles, as well as a deflected pass. A November game against the Jets would see Hargreaves record three combined tackles before exiting the game with a hamstring injury. He would eventually be placed on the IR, shelved until 2018.
The first game in 2018 would see the Buccaneers at New Orleans. Hargreaves would have 7 combined tackles, 1 pass defended, and a forced fumble that Justin Evans would return for a TD. A shoulder injury in the game would force Hargreaves to the IR. Ending his 2018 season.
Feel Good Stories Everywhere
I have always believed that each and every one of us has an interesting story to tell. We just need the right storyteller. On a team that has had more coaching changes, offense and defense scheme changes, and as much instability as a trailer rocking on the edge of a cliff. The Vernon Hargreaves story could just as well be a playoff, pregame segment, as much as a failure to meet expectations tale.
Missing a third of 2017, and just about all of 2018 did not fill in any blanks. The kid fills the run, moves fast, and has often been lost in pass coverage. He has also had as much support as a divorcee of a dead beat parent but has shown flashes of brilliance.
Before the start of this season, the Buccaneers exercised the fifth-year option on Hargreaves’s rookie contract. In week 1 he would intercept Jimmy Garoppolo and return it for a touchdown. In week 2, Hargreaves would record 12 tackles and make a game-changing, monster tackle on Christian McCaffrey that would lift the team to victory in the closing seconds in Carolina.
Buccaneer fans know the pain of walking through season after losing the season. Each step like a swamp that is getting slowly deeper.
Maybe if they stay the course and continue to improve the edges, they may eventually see the curtain come down on a winning season. Who knows, there could even be a curtain call.