Philadelphia Eagles Draft Preview: Vernon Hargreaves III

Feb 29, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Florida Gators defensive back Vernon Hargreaves goes through a workout drill during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 29, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Florida Gators defensive back Vernon Hargreaves goes through a workout drill during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports /

Could the Philadelphia Eagles Take Vernon Hargreaves with Their First Round Pick?

With March slowly coming to an end and the free agency period finally coming to a slowdown, attention of many NFL fans will turn to the Windy City as the 2016 NFL Draft will take place in Chicago starting Thursday, April 28th.

For the Philadelphia Eagles, many eyes will be on the team from the City of Brotherly Love as they could go in many directions with the number eight pick in this year’s first round.

Today, we will look at one intriguing prospect, Vernon Hargreaves III who could very well be the first choice in the Doug Pederson era at the helm of the Philadelphia Eagles.

How They Got There

Coming off one of the most disappointing seasons in recent memory, the Philadelphia Eagles decided to part ways with then-head coach Chip Kelly, and hired an Andy Reid disciple in Doug Pederson, formerly the offensive coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs. The Eagles (7-9, second in the NFL East) were slotted to pick 13th until they dumped the horrid contract and disappointing play of both Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso to South Beach, where the Miami Dolphins swapped first round picks with the Philadelphia Eagles, propelling them into the top 10, now at eighth overall.

The Philadelphia Eagles then had a very strong free agency period, addressing many needs. These signings addressed both sides of the ball, as well as adding some quality starting talent (see: Rodney Mcleod, Brandon Brooks) as well as capitalizing on some under the radar depth signings (Rueben Randle, Leodis McKelvin).  These signings have earned rave reviews from people around the league and give the Philadelphia Eagles the option to select the best player available at number eight.

The one player who could fit that description when the Philadelphia Eagles are on the clock?

Vernon Hargreaves III.


The 5’10 204 pound cornerback out of Tampa, Florida, Hargreaves is currently expected to be the second defensive back taken in this year’s draft after Florida State’s Jalen Ramsey. Assuming a starting role as soon as he walked onto campus at Gainesville, the Florida Gator went on to start 12 games every year at Florida, with 10 career interceptions and 121 total tackles. Hargreaves combines both great man to man and zone cover skills as well as excellent ball skills, attacking the ball at its highest point often.


Man Coverage

In the below gif, which may be my favorite play by Hargreaves, he has a knack of “attaching himself to the hip” of the receiver across from him. He showcases this here as well as exceptional a man coverage and closing speed on a comeback, a very hard route to defend and picks the ball off.


Again, Hargreaves shows his advanced ability to play man coverage, by keeping his shoulders and hips square to the receiver and forces the breakup on the slant.


Zone Coverage/Aggressiveness

Here we see Hargreaves in a zone 3 concept (3 defensive backs splitting the field into thirds). He does a great job of reading the quarterback’s eyes and anticipates the pass to the receiver in front of him, which he reads and intercepts the pass.


In this clip we see another example of Hargreaves’s quick instincts and aggressiveness. While falling back into zone coverage, Alabama runs a quick hitch route. Hargreaves plants and shoots forward, a nod to his agility and tackles the WR before he can reach the first down marker. Also, we see that Hargreaves plays bigger than his undersized frame and is a willing tackler, something the Eagles never got out of Maxwell last year.


Ball Skills

Perhaps his biggest strength, Hargreaves has an uncanny ability to go up and play the ball at its highest position. Rarely is Hargreaves caught out of position when the ball is up in the air and has a great ability either to break up the pass or pick it off. His ability of playing the ball is evidenced by his 10 career interceptions at Florida.


In this clip, watch as Hargreaves turns to see the ball in the air, and adjust his body in mid-air while coming down with the interception.



Vernon Hargreaves could very well be the pick at number eight for Philadelphia, as the Eagles currently lack a number one corner to play alongside second-year cornerback Eric Rowe. If the Eagles do go Vernon Hargreaves at eight it could remind the Philly faithful of another Florida Gator and one who used to roam the gridiron at the Linc.

Lito Sheppard.

Just looking at pure measurables, Hargreaves and Sheppard are very similar physically, Hargreaves at 5’10, 204 while Sheppard was 5’10 194. They also ran a similar forty yard dash time, 4.50 and 4.47 respectively. The style of play between the two is also similar, Sheppard was known for his coverage abilities both in a man and zone scheme as well as his ball skills, which translated nicely to the pros, as Lito had 18 interceptions and 70 passes defended in six years wearing the midnight green. Hargreaves would have had 20 interceptions and 54 passes defended had he played another three years in Gainsville, based on his production in the first three years. Hopefully, Hargreaves has a more consistent career than Sheppard, as Lito started to decline from 2008 until his career ended in 2011 with the Oakland Raiders.


If the Philadelphia Eagles select Hargreaves at the number eight spot, it could give the Eagles the first homegrown number one cornerback since the aforementioned Sheppard and potentially their first playmaker at that position since Asante Samuel. With the addition of Hargreaves, it would give Philly one of the best up and coming secondary backfields in the league, with the likes of Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Eric Rowe and Hargreaves. In a division that consists of receivers such as Dez Bryant, Odell Beckham Jr. and Desean Jackson, a secondary like that could limit the plays opposing offenses will make during the course of the game.

A secondary like that could remind the Eagles fans of times before, as Rowe and Hargreaves could remind some of the combination of Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent or Sheldon Brown and Lito Sheppard while the safeties might be the most talented duo since the pairing of Brian Dawkins and Michael Lewis.

If the Philadelphia Eagles are really trying to go back to the model of Andy Reid era, drafting Vernon Hargreaves would be a nice step towards building a dominate defense reminiscent of the Jim Johnson era.