NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken
We made it! Real football is finally here and for the next four months every Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday will have meaningful games on. This year, at least to start the season, I will be doing things a little differently with my in season posts. Instead of writing up scouting reports I plan on giving you a more detailed look at the player I am focusing on for that particular game. I went back and read some of my early reports and they were incomplete because the sample size was just too small. As the library on the DVR builds up (much to the dismay of my wife) I will start back with my more traditional scouting reports. For the first week, I decided to focus on a position I think the Patriots will need to concentrate on in next years draft, cornerback. I figured why no look at one of the higher profile players at the position, Vernon Hargreaves III out of Florida.
Name: Vernon Hargreaves III, #1
School: University of Florida, Junior
Weight: 192 Lbs.
Let’s face it, regardless of how the Patriots secondary plays this season, the team is going to need to invest some resources into the position. Many of the corners on the team are unproven or are playing on one year prove it deals. If they have success, their price tag goes up and the Patriots may not be willing to pay and if they fail, well then the position will really need an overhaul once again. Losing a first round pick hurts, especially when trying to get elite talent at one of the most coveted positions in the draft. So why am I writing about a guy that everyone has pegged as a sure fire first round pick? Well, last year, my very first post was on another guaranteed first round pick-Adrian Claiborn, who went in the third round. I mention this because right now, we just don’t know. Guys get hurt (in fact, as I finish this up, Hargreaves has already missed the ECU game and is questionable against Kentucky) or their play drops off or they get in trouble off the field. You just never know. So here is what I saw watching Hargreaves against New Mexico State in week 1 of the college football season.
If I could have looked into a magic ball and seen this game before sitting down and watching Hargreaves, I would have picked another player. Let’s just say that his exposure in this game was very limited. NMSU was smart enough to stay away from Hargreaves for the most part.
What I Saw:
I counted 4 bubble screens to Hargreaves side during the game and on 3 of them he fought through the wide receiver block to make the tackle or force the receiver back inside so someone else could make the play. On the other, he didn’t give the same type of effort as was washed out of the play which resulted in a nice gain for the Aggies.
Hargreaves always lined up on the same side, the defensive left side. He played primarily off coverage with open technique (what I mean by this is that he started with this hips perpendicular the the receiver rather than parallel. He played a few snaps in press man coverage and a few in off zone, but it was limited.
Hargreaves showed his versatility and his athleticism as he contributed as a punt returner and even got in on offense, catching a bubble screen.
Hargreaves had an interception on a trick play. What I liked was that he did not get fooled on the play and his ability to high point the ball and make the interception. He also looks like a play maker when he has the ball in his hands.
Most of the game, Hargreaves blanketed his receiver and essentially took his man out as an option.
I counted three negative plays for Hargreaves in this game. The first came in off coverage with open technique. He side shuffled for several yards and the receiver ran a curl to the first down marker. Hargreaves could not break on the ball with that technique and it led to a very easy completion and first down.
The second play was in off man coverage with closed technique. The receiver did a double move which Hargreaves bit on. The receiver was open with Hargreaves trailing behind but the pass was overthrown.
The third play was similar to the first where it was a comeback throw with Hargreaves too far off in his coverage and didn’t show great change of direction ability to make a play on the ball. It was a short completion for a first down.
What Did I Learn:
Like I said earlier, Hargreaves was not picked on a whole lot and for good reason. He plays physical and he looks fast. He showed the ability to take out a side of the field for most of the game. I do not love his technique and I think he relies on his natural ability too much. I was surprised by his physical play in the run game and his willingness to come up and make a tackle. You can definitely see why he is considered a top prospect coming into the season. I hope that he heals soon so I can see him against tougher competition later this season.
We are off and running, I hope that you found this article enjoyable and informative. I am still trying to work out some kinks so if you have any suggestions on this format, please let me know in the comments.
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