“Blending Into The Scenery”

October 14th, 2016


How bout that eye-RAH Kaufman, the famous Custodian of Canton, the new JoeBucsFan.com columnist who fires away Monday through Friday on these here pages! You can find all of Ira’s work by clicking here, and you can subscribe to his podcasts here.

Today, Mr. Kaufman digs in on Vernon Hargreaves. Enjoy!


With all the chatter regarding Roberto Aguayo’s foibles, it’s easy to forget that the first-round draft choice of the Buccaneers is off to a heck of a start.

Despite words of caution from Mel Kiper Jr. back in April, Bucs GM Jason Licht selected cornerback Vernon Hargreaves with the 11th overall pick. Through five games, it appears Tampa Bay has nailed its top choice once again, with Hargreaves joining Mike Evans and Jameis Winston as core players going forward.

Starting every game, Hargreaves leads all Tampa Bay corners with 23 tackles and his deflection at Carolina Monday led to linebacker Daryl Smith’s interception on a night the Bucs capitalized on four takeaways.

Hargreaves hasn’t made a lot of splash plays, but that’s not Job 1 for a defensive back, especially a rookie corner.

The Bucs have already faced Julio Jones, Larry Fitzgerald, Demaryius Thomas and Kelvin Benjamin — four rangy, physical and accomplished wide receivers — and Hargreaves hasn’t looked intimidated by any of them.

He lined up in the slot at Atlanta and played every down as Tampa opened the game in a nickel package. Now Hargreaves has replaced veteran Alterraun Verner on the outside, opposite Brent Grimes.

Barber Feel

The Bucs used to have a cornerback with that kind of flexibility. And while no one is comparing him to Ronde Barber, who will be a strong Hall of Fame candidate in 2018, Hargreaves has the look of a player who will excel in the long haul.

“I play corner, that’s what I do,” Hargreaves says of his recent transition. “That’s what I wanted to do. I didn’t mind playing inside and I did it to the best of my ability.”

Hargreaves announced his presence in the preseason with two interceptions against the Jaguars. He plays with the steely confidence required at corner, a demanding position that has been challenged in recent years by a flurry of rule changes designed to increase scoring.

Asked to assess Hargreaves as a prospect before the draft, Kiper suggested the former University of Florida standout faced limitations at the next level.

“He does a decent job in coverage, not a great job,” said ESPN’s long-time draft guru. “I think Hargreaves is a No. 2 corner. I don’t think he can be a lockdown corner. I don’t think he’s a guy you want on the best receiver on the opposition all the time.”


When Hargreaves batted a Derek Anderson’s pass high into the air in Charlotte, Benjamin was the intended target. And while tight end Greg Olsen enjoyed a remarkable evening, Carolina’s wide receivers were held in check by Hargreaves and Grimes.

“He was solid,” Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said of Hargreaves. “Both of our corners did a nice job. Grimes just about had another one (interception), so he got one and Vernon knocked that other one out. In essence, we get two turnovers from our corners and almost another one.”

The pro game hasn’t been too big for Hargreaves, who will face new challenges after the Bucs venture to San Francisco following the bye week. During a 3-game home stand, Tampa Bay’s secondary must deal with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree of the Raiders. Then it’s a rematch with Jones and the Falcons before gearing up for Chicago’s Alshon Jeffery, who is averaging 17.9 yards per catch.

“I think the jitters left a long time ago for me,” Hargreaves said. “At the end of the day, it’s football.”

Grimes is 33 and it won’t be long before Hargreaves is the unquestioned leader of Tampa Bay’s secondary, a maligned unit that has been undermined by the lack of a consistent pass rush.

Defensive coordinator Mike Smith is still figuring out how to take advantage of a rookie who has displayed a versatile set of skills.

“Vernon has been put in a tough situation when we’ve asked him to play inside because he’s so used to being on the outside corner,” Smith said. “There’s no doubt he can handle it.”

Through five games, Hargreaves has done a nice job blending into the scenery. If you haven’t heard his name mentioned too often, don’t fret.

When you toil down on the corner, that’s the best news of all.

15 Responses to ““Blending Into The Scenery””

  1. LifeOfABucFan Says:

    And he’s just 21..can you imagine what he will be like in a few more years!?..Just remember he was able to buy his first legal beer just a few months ago..lol..

    And he’s a Gemini, so he rules!!!!!

  2. thegregwitul Says:

    Good stuff, Ira!

  3. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    The luckiest man on the Bucs is Verner…..he gets his 6+ million while losing his starting job…..if there is a way to save some $$ for next year’s FA….he should be cut. We have depth with Banks & Robinson on the bench.

  4. SB with Jameis Says:

    When he was a Gator I SO wanted him to be a Buc. Glad I got my wish!!

  5. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    So the Browns just stole Danny Vitale off the practice Squad. We should have added him to our roster last week because of injuries.

    That just sucks.

  6. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Speaking for Pablo

    “Pablo thinks VH3 is really cute…..too bad Pablo likes only chicas……

    Lifeofabucfan…..Pablo is a Libra…..it is really hard for Pablo to keep those Libra scales in balance with Pablo’s elongated arc.”

  7. LakeLandBuc Says:

    Buccaneer Bonzai, and they cut Jeremy Butler. The Jets signed Butler, and we’re still saying we need receivers. lol, this is a joke.

  8. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Obviously they like Cross better than Vitale…..I think we are counting on Louis Murphy to return so don’t need Butler.

  9. Negative Jeff Says:

    Danny Vitale …who cares!!!!! He’s nobody that can’t block.

  10. orlbucfan Says:

    Hope MS starts Banks one of these years. VH3 is already proving his worth. Hopefully, he won’t get bit by the Buc Luck bug aka injury. So, Pablo is a Libra? Man, I could make a really snarky comment about the Scales of Justice (Libra’s sign), and certain male body parts. Snort! 🙂 Wonder why the 49ers let Crabtree go to their AFC competition across the Bay? He is a bugger

  11. DB55 Says:

    The kid is playing great. Don’t think he’s given up any yac yards much less any TDs. And he kinda locked down KB, I was worried about that match up and I was totally wrong.

  12. SB with Jameis Says:

    Howdy DB. Yeah as a Rook to face Julio Jones, Larry Fitzgerald, Demarius Thomas And KB in the first FIVE games of your career. There are CBs out there that haven’t had to run that gauntlet in an entire Season. Kid did a’ight IMO

  13. Chris Says:

    He definetly doesn’t back down from a challenge

  14. Joe Says:

    So the Browns just stole Danny Vitale off the practice Squad.


  15. Old Time Buc Says:

    young III plays good