With the NFL Scouting Combine in the books, the focus can return to scouting the players. With the excellent quarterbacks and offenses NFL, team will need to find as many talented defensive backs as possible to slow opposing offenses down. Dave Archibald examines cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III in our latest scouting profile.
Vernon Hargreaves III is almost a perfect cornerback prospect. The son of a coach, Hargreaves displays keen footwork and fluid movement on tape, in both press man and off coverage. He excelled in the jumping and agility drills at the NFL Scouting Combine. He made plays for Florida, nabbing 10 career interceptions and defending an SEC-leading 13 passes in 2015, en route to a Consensus All-American nod. However, Hargreaves stands just 5’10” with arm length (30 ⅝”) in the bottom quartile of cornerback prospects. In an era where long press cornerbacks are the prototype, that might be enough to tarnish his star.
Tale of the Tape
The chart below shows Hargreaves’s measurement and performance in Combine drills, as well as the percentile rank of how these figures stack up to other safeties since 1999:
|5’10”||204||30 5/8″||8 3/4″||4.50||15||39″||10’10”||3.98|
Data from NFLCombineResults.com and NFL.com
Hargreaves lacks ideal height and his arms are shorter than average. His 40-time was roughly average, but he showed explosiveness in the jumping drills and agility in the short shuttle. He doesn’t turn 21 until June.
Hargreaves plays bigger than his size, using quick hands to deliver jams at the line of scrimmage in press man coverage and keep receivers from getting a clean release. He rarely takes a false step and shows terrific hip fluidity to turn and run with receivers in whatever direction they release. He coordinates his hands and feet well, while staying balanced and in solid position:
Hargreaves is aggressive in off coverage and zone, using his downhill explosiveness to click-and-close and disrupt or defend passes. Offenses could exploit his aggression with double-moves and pump fakes. A press-heavy scheme will fit him better on day one, but his footwork and instincts suggest he can eventually succeed in an off man or zone system.
Defending at the Catch Point
Hargreaves’s size can be an issue on 50/50 balls. When he has good position and times his jump well, he can compete with larger players to deflect passes or make plays. If he finds himself off-balance or mis-times his jump, receivers with size can beat him at the catch point:
Hargreaves displays good football intelligence, knowing where his help is so he can undercut routes or attempt to tip balls to teammates. He demonstrates strong situational awareness: while he will concede the back shoulder throw in the middle of the field, he plays much more aggressively at the goal line, and will break up passes.
Hargreaves is willing to mix things up physically and shows a good ability to keep the edge in the run game. His tackling needs improvement, however:
He often flies in out of control and dives at the ballcarrier, making no attempt to wrap up. He can be faked out in the open field, surprising for a player of his athletic gifts. At times he goes for the strip rather than the sure tackle; as he only forced one fumble in his college career, this is a bad habit. He does a fine job fighting blocks, pushing back blockers and putting himself in position to hit the ballcarrier.
Hargreaves played on several special teams units for the Gators, working on coverage units. He has limited experience returning kicks and punts, demonstrating agility to make would-be tacklers miss but little tackle-breaking ability. He caught one pass as a gadget receiver on offense.
Hargreaves missed the season opener with a minor knee injury but has avoided major issues in his college career, playing 12 games in each of his three seasons in Gainesville.
Hargreaves’s college coach Jim McElwain endorses his guy:
McElwain says you don't replace VH3. "Vernon Hargreaves is as good a player as there is in the country." Thinks he'll be the first CB taken.
— Zach Abolverdi (@ZachAbolverdi) March 14, 2016
Some unconventional analysis from Tyler Steege of Eye of the Eagles:
Vernon Hargreaves has short dreads, and has potential to grow long dreads. The #Eagles need more players with dreads on their team, IMO.
— Tyler Steege (@EaglesFanTalk) March 8, 2016
Hargreaves’s scheme fit is interesting in that his tape is better in press coverage but his physical attributes – his agility and lack of height – suggest he projects best to an off man heavy or zone scheme. I’m a believer in Hargreaves as a press corner – his quick feet and hands let him win at the line of scrimmage where most players his size cannot. His lack of height and wingspan is more of an issue downfield and means he will likely never matchup up well against big, physical receivers in the Dez Bryant mold. He will need to temper his aggression to succeed in an off man or zone scheme, but his agility and football intelligence make him a solid prospect in those schemes. Despite lacking ideal size, Hargreaves does so many things well that he could contribute in any team’s secondary.
Follow @davearchie on Twitter. Check out his other work here, or his scouting profile of DeAndre Houston-Carson and the hidden game of Super Bowl 50.
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