Vernon Hargreaves promises to be lockdown corner for Jags

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Nov 21, 2015; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators defensive back Vernon Hargreaves III (1) runs out of the tunnel before the game against the Florida Atlantic Owls at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 21, 2015; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators defensive back Vernon Hargreaves III (1) runs out of the tunnel before the game against the Florida Atlantic Owls at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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Vernon Hargreaves has been surpassed by Jalen Ramsey in the pre-draft process as the best secondary player, but he still promises to be a lockdown cornerback in the NFL.

When looking at Mike Mayock’s prospect rankings by position, the person right behind Jalen Ramsey at cornerback is Vernon Hargreaves III, the cornerback out of Florida.

There is a good reason for this: Hargreaves is good. Really, really good.

Months ago, Hargreaves to the Jacksonville Jaguars at fifth overall promised to fix the Jags lackluster pass defense and usher in an improved secondary overall. Ramsey’s rise as the best safety and cornerback in the 2016 NFL draft class has all but made Hargreaves an afterthought for the Jaguars at fifth overall.

But that shouldn’t be the case.

If the Jags miss out on Ramsey – which is certainly possible as other teams believe he could be the best player in the draft – they can still add a quality piece to their secondary through the selection of Hargreaves. If the Jags value that need higher than pass rusher or linebacker, Hargreaves would be a logical choice.

With instinctive play that makes doing his job look easy, Hargreaves is a proven play maker. More importantly, he promises to be a shutdown corner.

In his visit with the Jaguars and the subsequent promotional video, Hargreaves says he will be a lockdown corner and promises to “take away the other team’s best player.” Even if he is not the play maker that the Jaguars could use (new free safety Tashaun Gipson has a history of being a play maker), if he can effectively cut off half the field and limit the opposing team’s best receiver, the Jags defense would immediately improve.

Bucky Brooks argues that there are no modern shutdown corners in the NFL, making a case that in today’s pass-happy league there just isn’t anybody who truly does shut down an opposing wide receiver and take away half of the field. This isn’t to say that there aren’t quality players that make impact plays and do limit opposing receivers, but they just aren’t the true shutdown cornerbacks that Brooks highlights.

“the game has changed so much over the past decade that it is nearly impossible for a defender to consistently erase the opponent’s WR1 without assistance from a safety or underneath defender,” writes Brooks. It’s a compelling argument and one that makes players who are least close to shutdown status even more valuable.

Next: Jags 5 round mock draft

Right now it’s all hype, but if the Jaguars are looking for a player who can erase the opponent’s best receiving option, then Hargreaves would be a great selection at fifth overall. He’s far more likely to be available than other top defensive talents and would provide a key piece in a rebuilt Jags secondary. Hopefully he’ll be able to make some plays as well.

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