Vernon Hargreaves’ first practice as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer doesn’t start until Friday afternoon, but he’s already taken care of some important business at One Buccaneer Place.
Early Friday, the Buccaneers announced that they had signed Hargreaves, the 11th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, to his first NFL contract. Like all first-round deals, Hargreaves’ pact is for four years with a fifth-year club option.
Hargreaves is the third member of the Buccaneers’ seven-man draft class to get his deal done since arriving in Tampa for the team’s rookie mini-camp. Fourth-round defensive back Ryan Smith and fifth-round offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch inked their contracts on Thursday evening. Still needing deals are a pair of second-round picks – defensive end Noah Spence and kicker Robert Aguayo – and a pair of sixth-round selections – linebacker Devante Bond and fullback Danny Vitale.
As the Buccaneers open their first mini-camp practice on Friday, Hargreaves will begin his pursuit of a starting spot in a revamped secondary. After allowing a 70% completion rate to opposing passers in 2015, the Bucs prioritized improvements in the defensive backfield, signing free agent cornerback Brent Grimes and, in the Hargreaves selection, using the highest pick in team history at that position.
Considered by many to be the best pure cover corner in this year’s draft, Hargreaves was a first-team All-America choice in 2015 and one of three finalists for the Jim Thorpe Award. In 37 games at the University of Florida he tallied 118 tackles and four interceptions.
Pictures from Hargreaves' photo shoot following the NFL Draft.