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Vernon Hargreaves Scouting Report: Fancy Feet

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Keep an eye on this prospect.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Since stepping onto the field as a freshman, cornerback, Vernon Hargreaves, was a star. Hargreaves was a top high school player in the country and was brought on by then coach, Will Muschamp. Hargreaves was as advanced as an 18 year old corner could be and he was truly astounding to watch.

Hell, he still is.

The 2016 NFL draft is my fifth draft class I have scouted and there is no doubt in my mind that Hargreaves is the best corner I have seen in that time. Week in and week out, Hargreaves has taken players out of the passing game with his coverage ability. This ability comes from an advanced understanding of the position and, you guessed it, great feet.

I like to talk about athletic ability for NFL players, because I do think it is incredibly important, but the corner position is different than most other positions in terms of athletic requirements. There is absolutely a baseline level of athletic ability to play, but the position is so much more about consistent technique, understanding of your opponent and a mental resilience that allows corners to bounce back from a bad snap. Hargreaves exhibits all of this at a high level. In terms of movement skills, Hargreaves has some of the best footwork I have ever seen. He does a great job working through his backpedal and transitioning out of it. His feet move incredibly quickly and there is incredible economy to his movement. Of course, there would have to be because I do not see a lot of explosive athletic ability from Hargreaves. He does not outstanding closing speed or jumping ability, but he does everything to compensate. Even more impressive than his feet in a stand alone (see what I did there? Alright, ignore me) is how well they work in tandem with his eyes. He does an excellent job diagnosing plays and flowing to them as fast as he can.

Another thing that I love about Hargreaves is he is a fighter who has that mental resiliency to play corner in the NFL. The reality is, there are so many talented receivers in such a passing oriented sport, even the best will get burnt on occasion. It is paramount to bounce back like nothing ever happened. Football is such a mental sport and that is embodied at the corner position. Josh Norman? Richard Sherman? Darrelle Revis? They will get have plays made on them no and again, but they come out the next down, talk some shit, and play their ass off like nothing ever happened. It is so important to have that toughness and that swagger to play corner. Luckily I see that with Hargreaves. He legitimately seems to hate giving up receptions and wants to make receivers pay for it. He is a strong, but sound tackler and he has no issues lowering the boom. Even better, he is constantly looking to strip the ball. There are few things better than a player constantly looking for a turnover and, more importantly, not giving up on a play. However, it is rare he is giving up a ton of receptions because of how sound he is in coverage. He looks very good in man coverage and outstanding in zone coverage. I think he is maximized in zone because of how smart of a corner he is and it puts less stress on his athletic ability, instead just letting him diagnose plays and attack what is in front of him.

Where I have a bone to pick with Hargreaves is a bit, but you need to get into the nitty gritty with top prospects. For one, as much as I love Hargreaves' fight, he is not overly strong. He can get outmuscled at the catch point occasionally and his ability to press at the line does nothing to maximize his coverage. Press should take receivers out of their rhythm. Getting pressed needs to piss receivers off, but rarely do I see Hargreaves winning handily at the line of scrimmage. Finally, I am not sure Hargreaves has ideal size to play corners for a lot of teams. Personally, I do not usually get into my feels about whether a corner is 5-10 or 5-11, as long as he can play, but I know lots of NFL teams will pass on "shorter" corners altogether. Hargreaves is probably borderline, though. More importantly, he has a tendency to get banged up every game, which is worrisome.

NFL Comparison: Hargreaves is a spitting image of Bengals cornerback, Leon Hall. Like Hall, Hargreaves is a bit undersized by NFL standards, but does not let that consistently impact his game. He has outstanding footwork, incredible discipline in coverage and great instincts. Both possess good ball skills and never give up on a down. Also, while both can play man coverage very well, they get maximized in zone.

Hargreaves' fit in Philadelphia is very dependent on how he does at the combine. The Eagles are very stringent about defensive back size, so Hargreaves will need to come in above 5-11. If not, there is a huge possibility the Eagles will not even have him on their draft board. However, whichever team is smart enough to overlook his height (another joke), they will get the next star NFL cornerback.

The next scouting report will be another defensive back from the state of Florida.... Keep an eye out.