Vernon Hargreaves III Scouting Report
Vernon Hargreaves III, 5-10/204
By Charlie Campbell
Smooth cover corner
Excellent at running the route to prevent separation
Can play off-man coverage
Can play zone coverage
Can play press-man coverage
Plays the ball extremely well
Soft hands to make catches
Strong run defender
Tough tackler at times
Special teams contributor: returner and cover
Good teammate; coach's son
Doesn't always play up to this size
Gets beat on more 50-50 jump balls than he should
Can give up separation deep to fast receivers
Seemed to be protecting himself late in 2015
Entering the 2015 season, Hargreaves looked like he could be a special cornerback prospect, and I thought he could be the best corner prospect since Patrick Peterson in the 2011 NFL Draft. Hargreaves was a star as a freshman and sophomore, and while his junior year wasn't bad, it looked like he was protecting himself and his NFL hopes. As a result, Hargreaves' play suffered, and late in the year, he really seemed to be slumping. That being said, Hargreaves still is an NFL-ready corner who could be a No. 1 corner as a pro.
As a true freshman in 2013, Hargreaves was Florida's best and most consistent cornerback. Considering the Gators had established veterans in Marcus Roberson and Louichez Purifoy, it said a lot that Hargreaves was on the field immediately. He recorded interceptions in his first three college games while totaling 11 pass breakups and 38 tackles for the year. In 2014, Hargreaves had his best season, totaling 50 tackles, three interceptions and 13 passes broken up. He went toe to toe with Amari Cooper and held his own in an impressive performance. Cooper had some wins, and so did Hargreaves. Overall, Hargreaves covered Cooper better than anybody else that season.
Hargreaves started his junior year well, but all season, he wasn't as physical in the ground game or taking on receivers as he seemed to be protecting himself from injury. Hargreaves had impressive performances against Georgia, LSU and Ole Miss though. He led the way to keep Ole Miss' Laquon Treadwell in check. However, Hargreaves had poor performances against Alabama and Michigan to close out the year. It seemed like he shut it down in the bowl game. In 2015, Hargreaves recorded 33 tackles with four passes broken up and four interceptions.
For the NFL, Hargreaves is a well-balanced cornerback. He is a quick athlete with very good feet and agility. Hargreaves can run the route with receivers in the short to intermediate part of the field and prevent separation. The junior is not a limited corner in his technique as he has the ability to play off-man, press-man, or zone concepts. Hargreaves avoids penalties and plays the ball well. He has the ability to take passes away and came up with some clutch interceptions for the Gators. As soon as his rookie season, Hargreaves will be one of the better corners in the NFL in terms of ball skills.
There are some negatives to Hargreaves' game that put him below Patrick Peterson as a prospect. Sources say that Hargreaves has good size and is put together well, but he doesn't play up to it. He plays like he's 5-foot-9 at times. As a result, receivers could get the better of Hargreaves on 50-50 passes and he was beaten far too often on jump balls. Hargreaves isn't as physical with receivers as evaluators would like him to be.
Hargreaves also can allow receivers to get deep on him as he is quick, but doesn't have the rare speed to run with burners. That lack of elite speed was given numerical evidence with a 4.50-second time in the 40-yard dash at the combine. Therefore, receivers can get steps on him running vertically. These are issues that Hargreaves will have to get coached up and improve on as a professional.
In speaking with scouts, they say those issues are minor in the grand scheme of Hargreaves as a player. They love his ability to run with receivers and keep them from getting open. They say that, immediately, Hargreaves is going to be better than the vast majority of cornerbacks in the NFL.
Sources say that Hargreaves gets high marks off the field. He is a good worker, teammate and high-character individual. For the 2016 NFL Draft, sources project Hargreaves to go in the first round. By the sound of it, they look at him as more of a top-20 prospect rather than a top five-pick like Peterson.
Player Comparison: Joe Haden.
Hargreaves' style of play reminds me of Joe Haden as a cover corner. Hargreaves doesn't play as physically with receivers as Haden does despite Hargreaves being larger. Haden can give up some plays here and there, but overall, he has been dependable to run the route and prevent separation. Haden was a top 10-pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, and Hargreaves should also go in the top 25.
Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa Bay, Chicago, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Oakland, Indianapolis and Washington
Hargreaves could easily find an in-state home. The Jaguars' secondary was scorched throughout 2015, and they need to upgrade their cornerbacks. Hargreaves would be an instant upgrade for Gus Bradley.
The Dolphins need a defensive back to replace Brent Grimes and give them a lead corner. Hargreaves could do that. He makes a ton of sense for Miami. The Bucs, for their part, badly need to upgrade their secondary. They have to improve their corners and safety. Hargreaves would make a lot of sense for Tampa Bay, but in speaking with sources the organization sounds lukewarm on Hargreaves.
The Bears are also in the position of needing an upgrade at corner, while the Saints allowed a ridiculous amount of touchdown passes last season and could use cornerback help. Philadelphia has had secondary issues for years. The Eagles could use a No. 1 corner in their division with Dez Bryant, Odell Beckham Jr., and DeSean Jackson in six games per year.
The Raiders got more from D.J. Hayden in 2015, but still need a No. 1 corner. The Colts and Redskins also need help at cornerback. If Hargreaves slides in the first round, he would make sense for Indianapolis or Washington. The Redskins have to replace DeAngelo Hall. The Colts, meanwhile, need a corner to pair with Vontae Davis.
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