There is no doubt about it, Ronde Barber is a Buccaneers legend. The Cornerback was drafted by Tampa Bay in the 3rd round as the 66th overall pick in 1997. However, the legendary status he has now, was not given to him, he had to earn it, as he played only one game in his first year and did not look very good. He was benched for the rest of the season and the Bucs used another 2nd round pick the following year on Cornerback Brian Kelly, which leads to believe the team did not fully believe in him.
When interviewed by Scott Reynolds, a writer from Pewter Report, Barber has an explanation for the slow development at the Cornerback position, also in regards of Vernon Hargreaves,
“There’s a learning curve with corners, and it’s different with different guys… For me, as opposed to a guy like Vernon, who had his opportunity right away, I had to learn how to be a pro. In that regard it’s the same. You have to learn how to be a pro, how to take care of your body and how to prepare. Most of your success comes from what you learn along the way and I had, basically, a full year to learn… I had Herm Edwards in the room and they were telling me how to go from being a college guy that had a lot of success to going to the NFL where you have to prepare for your success. Fortunately for me, I had Anthony Parker helping me get there, too.” – via Scott Reynolds, Pewterreport.com
Consequently, Hargreaves‘ struggles in his first couple of seasons are not surprising to Ronde Barber. When asked specifically about the young Cornerback and his potential, Barber said,
“Well, Vern comes in and you put him right out there. That’s to be expected – he’s a first-round draft pick. And some people, when I’m talking about him, feel like I’m being homerish with him, but I’m in love with his movement. Vernon’s movement is rare. I’ve watched a lot of film, watched a lot of teams, watched a lot of corners – and he’s got rare movement. But he’s got to be able to put that movement to good and reach his potential. And he’s got it, but at the end of the day you’ve got to be able to put it on film.” – via Scott Reynolds, Pewterreport.com
Like Barber, Brian Kelly needed a few years to figure it out at the pro level, as well. Granted, the expectations for Hargreaves were higher, as he was a very high picked, getting selected 11th overall. Whether or not he will finally be able to turn his high potential into success on the field remains to be seen. Bucs legend Ronde Barber certainly believes he has all the tools necessary for a long career in the NFL,
“He’s got rare movement. He’s got rare foot skill. His shuffle agility is effortless, and for a guy that, on paper, might be a mid to high 4.4-guy, he can win with his feet and stay on top. I wasn’t fast. I could run, but I wasn’t a blazer. You win with technique, and if he can win with technique, he could play in this league for a long time.” via Scott Reynolds, Pewterreport.com
If you would like to read Scott Reynolds’ whole article, you can find HERE.