TAMPA – We’ve noted here on a couple of occasions how the Buccaneers are hoping to see cornerback Vernon Hargreaves play with a little more aggression during his second season in the NFL.
If Hargreaves meets that objective the Bucs will more than likely have one of the five best cornerback tandems in the league, according to former Steelers cornerback and current NFL.com analyst Ike Taylor.
Taylor recently put together his projection for the top-five cornerback duos in the league for 2017 and while the Bucs tandem of Hargreaves and Brent Grimes didn’t make the cut, it came close.
As they used to say about the teams that fell short in the old college football rankings, the Harvgreaves-Grimes duo were one of just two that also received votes. No one should be surprised.
Grimes was easily one of the best cornerbacks in the game a year ago, when he intercepted four passes and led the league with 24 pass breakups, and Hargreaves could easily move into that category this year.
Hargreaves was arguably the best pure cover corner coming out of college last year and while he didn’t play to that level as a rookie, there’s nothing that suggests he can’t get to that level quickly in Year 2.
As Bucs coach Dirk Koetter has said of Hargreaves, who simply played a little too soft in coverage in an effort to make sure he didn’t get beat last year, all the Florida product has to do is play with more aggression.
That will mean taking a few more chances, which could result in Hargreaves giving up a few more big plays, but the Bucs believe the plays Hargreaves takes away will far outnumber the plays he gives up.
We’re not going to disagree with that premise. Hargreaves did break up nine passes last year, but with a better understanding of the defense and how his skills fit in the league, he should take a big leap forward.
Whether that will result in the tandem of Hargreaves and Grimes getting into Taylor’s top five remains to be seen, but in case you’re wondering, the five tandems they’re chasing are:
A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey, Jacksonville Jaguars; Aqib Talib and Chris Harris, Denver Broncos; Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple, New York Giants; Jason Verrett and Casey Hayward, Los Angeles Chargers; and Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore, New England Patriots.