Saved Draft, Saved Season

August 2nd, 2019

Tampa Bay’s only Hall of Fame voter, Ira Kaufman, is in Year 4 as a columnist and podcast mogul.


Tampa Bay’s only Hall of Fame voter, columinst and podcast mogul Ira Kaufman, will watch the Bucs-Steelers preseason opener with you, Friday, Aug. 9, at the Wesley Chapel Buffalo Wild Wings just east of I-75. Sage will have a limited supply of gift cards to share. It’s kickoff of Ira’s world tour. There’s nothing like watching a game with “The Sage.” Enjoy Ira’s Friday column below.

Bruce Arians implores his assistant coaches to tell him what a player can do, not what he can’t do.

In the case of Vernon Hargreaves, it appears he can do plenty.

That may come as a surprise to Buc fans who have watched the 11th pick in the 2016 draft intercept only one pass in 26 games as a pro.

Through the first week of training camp, no Buc defender looks more comfortable in the attack scheme of Todd Bowles than Hargreaves, an old man of Tampa Bay’s secondary at the age of 24.

Vernon Hargreaves is expected to recapture and exceed his 2016 form

That 2016 draft has been a noose around Jason Licht’s neck for three years, but the rope may be loosening. Hargreaves is leading the way for a young and feisty defensive backfield and even Noah Spence appears rejuvenated.

If Matt Gay wins the kicking job and excels, Roberto Aguayo will be a distant memory instead of a poster child for Licht’s draft gaffes.

Spence, who needed a road map to find the field in 2018, is suddenly coming off the edge with speed and power.

“He’s so explosive off the ball,” says new teammate Shaq Barrett. “His get-off is amazing, and then he’s real good with his hands as well. And he’s got great body control, so he’s going to be very good for us this year.”

The games won’t count for another five weeks, but August is a critical month for Hargreaves and Spence. They have to show Arians and Bowles that they can be trusted in September.

While Spence may be an unrestricted free agent in March, the Bucs picked up their fifth-year option on Hargreaves, with a potential cap hit of $10 million next season.


His last two years have been undermined by hamstring and shoulder injuries, but Hargreaves is a healthy camper at the moment. His confidence is high and he’s operating with the assertive style he displayed at the University of Florida.

Gil Brandt, who will be inducted into Canton this weekend as a Hall of Fame contributor, attended Florida’s pro day in 2016 and came away raving about a 5-foot-10 corner with 4.5 speed.

“Vernon Hargreaves was outstanding in positional drills,” Brandt said. “He has everything you look for in a corner — quickness and cover skills. I think he just cemented his Top-10 status in the 2016 draft.”

During Mike Smith’s three years as Tampa Bay’s defensive coordinator, Hargreaves struggled with a soft scheme that emphasized keeping the ball in front of you.

Enter Bowles, armed with a different depth chart and a different agenda.

Elite Challenges

The Bucs drafted three defensive backs with premium picks, but it’s Hargreaves who is providing daily highlights at practice. In May, Arians was calling out Hargreaves, telling him to get his mind right. It was a rare instance of the new head coach singling out a player for reprimand, but you can’t argue with the results.

Buc-killer Michael Thomas

Hargreaves now leaves the defensive huddle thinking he’s back in Gainesville, where the defensive rules of combat were simple: blitz the quarterback and play man-to-man on the outside.

All this euphoria could fade for Hargreaves once he finds himself chasing Julio Jones, Michael Thomas, Larry Fitzgerald and DeAndre Hopkins this season. But for now, he is living up to the NFL scouting report on a highly regarded Gator prospect: “With top-notch ball skills and exceptional instincts that drew praise from Nick Saban, Hargreaves possesses the makeup to become a Pro Bowl cornerback.”

We know what Hargreaves can’t do. He can’t play passive football.

We’re about to find out what he can do when the Bucs turn him loose.

15 Responses to “Saved Draft, Saved Season”

  1. AlteredEgo Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation. Says:

    VH3..was a cat in college !

  2. SOEbuc Says:

    I thought BA was blowing a Tampa Cuban up my arse when he was raving about Hargreaves when he first arrived. He also says he loves Peyton Barber. 1,000+ season??? Would love to see Murphy-Bunting or Dean show up in preseason. Hargreaves can’t cover those big dudes just because Jameis is under throwing to make up for over throwing.

  3. SOEbuc Says:

    ^^^If Hargreaves is that good he could be an outside CB on first and second down and nickel on third. He looked really nice in the nickel the two games he played last year.^^^

  4. Barbosa Says:

    My God ! Just how awful was Mike Smith??? I’m beginning to think Lovie’s OJT hire of his son for the secondary was a better hire. What do the old Bucs defensive vets that live here think? I just can’t wrap my head around how much credibility Mike Smith lost in 24 months. Remember everyone high five each other when he signed that huge contract to stay as a coordinator? WOW

  5. Bruce Blahak Says:

    This is a much improved team if RoJo, Spence and Hargreaves come through..

  6. Raceto10 Says:

    This is why you cant criticize players more than coaches especially when they have played under the last 4 coaches prior to BA. After a decade I think BA will finally make these horrible owners realize that coaching matters more than premium draft picks and we are learning the lesson it took the rams also

  7. Rod Munch Says:

    I was never as down on VH3 as others, the guy had a decent rookie season, then something happened early in year two, and he’s been non-stop injured since then. So while this is good news so far, we also heard how much better he was last preseason and then he got hurt opening day and was gone for the year. You really can’t rely on the guy at this point and anything he gives you should be considered a bonus. I’m by no means giving up on him – but if I was the team there wouldn’t be any way I’d expect him to be a starter all year.

  8. mdsbuc Says:

    I like the photo, Ira “Ray Charles” Kaufman, tickling the ivories on the computer keyboard…

  9. 813bucboi Says:

    what CB in the NFL can shut down JJ, MT and DH?…lol….

    VHG is our best CB on the roster and he’ll be our starting outside CB week1….

    GO BUCS!!!!!

  10. 813bucboi Says:


    VHG was injured week1 and didnt return…..he missed the rest of the season….

    and in that game, he started outside CB and moved inside on 3rd down….

    GO BUCS!!!!

  11. BigMacAttack Says:

    All this makes me want to pay $200 for $85 seats, drink $10 hot beers and eat $20 pulled pork sammiches. Did I mention $20 parking? Buc-n-A man! Now they can review pass interference calls. That alone should lose us 3-4 games alone.

  12. AceOfAerospace Says:

    I have never doubted Hargreaves. He needed proper coaching. Full disclosure, I am a gator homer, so at least I saw every college game he played.

  13. BringBucsBack Says:

    BigMac, made me laugh!

  14. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    He’s gotta stay healthy first.

  15. Sport Says:

    Go Bucs!!!!

    In BA I Trust!