Vernon Hargreaves III thrived against some of the best wide receivers in the country playing in the SEC at Florida. Now he hopes that translates into success at the NFL level.
Standing at just a shade shorter than 5'11" and weighing 204 pounds, Vernon Hargreaves III might not possess the size of some of the bigger, more physical cornerbacks that have become the trend across the league in recent years.
But Hargreaves III has something else on his side entering the 2015 NFL Draft; something not many other cornerbacks can match: plenty of experience, and success, against some of the best young wide receivers in the NFL today.
A Florida product, Hargreaves III knows that matching up against some of the best the SEC has to offer each and every season means he likely has a leg up on just about anyone heading into their rookie seasons in 2016.
"Playing in the SEC, I've covered Amari Cooper, I've covered Odell Beckham, I've covered Jarvis Landry, Kelvin Benjamin," Hargreaves III told reporters at the NFL Combine. "I've seen them all before. That's not to say that I'm ready necessarily, but it definitely helps to have covered them before, to have tracked them before."
Hargreaves III thrived with the Gators, earning first-team All-SEC honors all three years on campus. His last two years were especially impressive: three interceptions, 13 pass breakups in 2014 and four interceptions and four pass breakups in 2015, when opposing offenses had long learned to limit throwing the ball his way.
And while Hargreaves III's speed — he ran a 4.5-second 40-yard dash at the Combine — certainly isn't among the top in his class at the cornerback position, he's able to make up for a lack of size with an out-of-this-world 39-inch vertical.
"Vertical springs to go up and over receivers at the high point," reads his NFL.com Draft Profile. "…Plays with outstanding body control and balance. Feet are electric."
Hargreaves III also likes to be physical, which is something he acknowledges he'll need to retune at the professional level.
"In the NFL you can't put your hands on them so I'll definitely have to work on my technique," he said. "You can't touch them 10 yards down the field like you could in college so I worked on keeping my hands off guys."
Hargreaves III also feels he has the versatility to thrive playing cornerback outside or inside against the slot receivers, where having the ability to tackle comes handy.
"I've been doing it my whole career in college, going inside and tracking receivers," he said. "Usually, if the best receiver goes inside I go inside. It's a little different from playing outside but as far as being a corner, you get used to it. You just have to know how to cover inside."
A potential Top-10 pick at the end of the month, Hargreaves III said he's excited to get the whole draft process over with so he can continue growing as a player and begin his professional career.
"I said I was the best corner in college football and I had to live up to that," Hargreaves III said when asked about the prospect of being one of the first 10 players selected. "I feel like I did and my confidence is extremely high. It always has been. I never doubt myself."