For the most part, first-round draft picks are expected to step in and immediately contribute to their new team. Although his role has yet to be defined, it appears that Vernon Hargreaves will fit that mold.
Hargreaves, the No. 11 overall pick this year, was considered by many draft analysts to be the best cover corner in the draft. He's been lining up on the outside, where he played in college, in addition to learning to play in the slot. Although he's been working exclusively with the second-team defense throughout the spring, the Buccaneers expect their top draft pick see the field in some capacity this season.
Pictures of the Buccaneers' first-round draft pick during Rookie Mini-Camp and OTAs.
"He's going to play," head coach Dirk Koetter said following the Bucs' final mini-camp practice last week. "Like you said, the guy has made plays every single day (during mini-camp). Vernon is a football player, everything we thought when we drafted him. He's going to play. It will all fall in place. A lot of that will be determined by health, but I'm very confident that Vernon can either play inside at the nickel or play outside. For whoever doesn't know the difference, the nickel corner plays over the slot and regular corners play outside on the wide out and Vernon can play both."
Alterraun Verner and Brent Grimes have been working as the starting corners on the outside throughout OTAs and mini-camp with Jude Adjei-Barimah lined up as the team's nickel back. Hargreaves has stepped in with the twos, both on the outside and in the slot, but whenever he's had an opportunity he's made the most of it.
Take a look at the best photos from the Buccaneers' 2016 offseason.
Hargreaves picked up a handful of interceptions throughout the spring, including a practice during OTAs where he snagged two picks.
"That's what they drafted me for," Hargreaves said. "I'm supposed to make plays. Not necessarily too big of a deal, I just have to keep making them."
Whether or not he starts will be decided during training camp. Frankly, with the pass-happy nature of the league, it might not be important if he's a starter, the nickel back or a reserve. The fact the matter is that the Buccaneers will need him to contribute this season. And if the spring is any indication, he'll be ready.