The Chicago Bears went into free agency this year with needs at the cornerback position. Yet GM Ryan Pace did nothing more than re-sign Tracy Porter, who was inconsistent as a starter last season.
With teams paying veteran cornerbacks through the roof in free agency, it's likely Pace is looking toward the draft to fill the club's needs at corner.
With that in mind, I went to the film room to break down the top cornerback in this year's draft, Florida's Vernon Hargreaves
Vernon Hargreaves, Florida (5-10, 204) Junior, Age: 21
A three-year starter for the Gators, Hargreaves was named All-SEC in each of his three seasons in Gainesville. He was named to multiple All-American lists in both 2014 and 2015. His 2013 numbers: 3 INTs, 14 PBUs. His 2014 numbers: 3 INTs, 13 PBUs. His 2015 numbers: 4 INTs, 4 PBUs. He comes from an athletic family, as his father played football for Connecticut and was named to UConn's 100th anniversary team.
40-yard dash: 4.50
20-yard shuttle: 3.98
Bench press: 15 reps
Vertical jump: 39 inches
Broad jump: 10-10
His broad jump and vertical jump were both in the Top 10 at the combine among cornerbacks.
-An explosive athlete with quick-twitch ability. Elite quickness and agility.
-Adept in press coverage. Uses fluid, textbook pack pedal and shifts hips quickly to turn and run with receivers.
-Takes good angles when ball is in the air and uses active hands in jump-ball situations, where his leaping ability gives him an advantage.
-Always looking to create turnovers, including strips. If he has an opportunity at the ball, he consistently tries to haul in the interception, instead of just swatting the ball away.
-Has good hand jolt in press coverage. His quick arm extension can re-route receivers.
-He's an active tackler and consistently works to fight off blocks at the second level.
-His quickness gives him the ability to easily mirror receivers in man coverage. Very rarely allows separation. His change-of-direction ability is top-tier.
-Very dangerous with the ball in his hands. Elusive in the open field, which makes him a home run threat every time he touches the ball.
-Was used extensively on special teams, including a gunner on punt team, blocker of the gunner on punt return team and as a kick returner. Uses good burst and hits holes hard as a kick returner.
-Not a physical tackler. Has a tendency to drop his head and dive at ankles. Fails to consistently wrap up.
-He can be late getting out of his back pedal in zone coverage.
-Fly routes could give him trouble at the next level, as he doesn't possess the straight-line recovery speed to make up ground after he's beat.
-Often loses track of receiver on scramble plays, as he becomes fixated on the running quarterback in the backfield.
-Aggressiveness can be used against him on double moves.
-Not instinctive in zone coverage. Far better in man sets.
-He doesn't have ideal awareness on deep balls and could be out-muscled by bigger receivers in the NFL.
-Doesn't consistently use his hands in press coverage. Too often deploys press-bail technique without disrupting receivers at the line of scrimmage.
Is Hargreaves worth the 11th pick in the draft?
In terms of NFL first-round cornerbacks, Hargreaves checks off a lot of boxes. He looks the part, showing outstanding quickness and fluidity in every phase of the game. He plays at a game speed that is far greater than his 40 time might indicate. He doesn't have ideal height but he's thick in both the upper and lower body.
His experience and productivity in man coverage is ideal for the type of cornerback Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio prefers. When he uses his hands, he can be a pain at the line of scrimmage, as his arms are just as quick as his feet. His amazing feet and change-of-direction ability should give him positional versatility at the next level. His overall skill-set gives him the ability to match up on No. 1 receivers at the boundary position, yet he's easily quick enough to play in the slot.
After interceptions, Hargreaves is fun to watch. He can make would-be tacklers miss in the open field and he uses his light feet to work his way through the post-interception chaos. When he picks off a pass, there's a very good chance the defense is going to score.
He's also a weapon as a kick returner, with burst and field vision, as well as the ability to slip through small cracks. And if the coaching staff wants to use him as a gunner, he has experience there as well.
There are concerns with Hargreaves as a potential lock-down corner in the pros. He doesn't have ideal size or speed. He's going to make a lot of plays but he's also going to give up some yards. He allowed 16.5 yards per completion last season.
He also lacks ideal upper body strength and could struggle with big, physical receivers, particularly on deep balls. He's a willing tackler but he uses poor form, which leads to some ugly misses.
In a few key areas, he's still a project.
Still, Hargreaves has the physical makeup and athleticism to be a Pro Bowl corner at the next level. He understands how to be effective as a cornerback, particularly in man coverage, and understands how to use his quickness to his advantage, which often makes up for his lack of elite speed. He brings the swagger and confidence teams look for in No. 1 corners.
There's a chance the Eagles will select Hargreaves with the 8th overall pick but many believe Philadelphia will draft Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott. So if Hargreaves gets past the Eagles, there's a good chance he'll fall to the Bears at 11th overall. If that happens, don't be surprised if he's starting in Chicago next season.null