"We're very excited with Vernon [Hargreaves]. He was a guy that we targeted, and not only were we able to get him but obviously we were able to pick up a fourth-round pick as well. My staff did an incredible job of preparing for this and scripting about a hundred different scenarios where we could possibly get an extra pick and get a player that we wanted. So it worked out well, hats off to them, but Vernon is a guy that we feel brings a lot of versatility to our defense. He can play outside and he can play inside. Great players come in a lot of different sizes and different packages. We feel that his thickness and his build, he's a sturdy player, he can press, he can tackle and he's very quick and athletic and has good ball skills and has been a very productive player at Florida over the last three years. It's been a lot of fun watching him over his career there. So we are very excited about the pick."
(On if lack of height is an overblown issue for a corner)
"Yeah, a little bit. You can ask Brent Grimes if lack of height has affected his career. You can ask Ronde Barber if lack of height has affected his career. I worked in Philly on some really, really good teams with Andy Reid and Jim Johnson, our defensive coordinator, with two corners that were shorter than Vernon, and one coincidentally from Florida, Lito Sheppard. There have been a lot of Pro Bowl corners – a lot – that have been his size: 5-10 and a half. He's a thick guy, like I said, so he plays big. He plays big in the run game, especially."
(On Hargreaves' special qualities)
"His instincts, his football intelligence, his quickness, his ball skills."
(On being the son of a football coach)
"I think it's very important. I've known his dad for 18 years, maybe…17, 18 years, all the way back to when he worked for the Hurricanes. Great family, just a solid foundation, and his dad has stayed out of his process, his entire…going into college, never interfered, let Vernon make those decisions for himself. Vernon's a very mature guy and I respect that. But coming up through a football family, I think it's very important. We want football guys, and we got one."
(On if Tampa Bay would have taken Hargreaves at pick No. 9 if they did not trade back)
"Yeah, he was the guy that we wanted there."
(On if that was a bit of a gamble to trade back two spots)
"We were confident that he was there. We did a lot of research. There is a gamble, there's always a gamble. But there was a guy that I worked with, Bruce Arians always said, 'No risk it, no biscuit.' Sometimes you've got to be bold and sometimes it works out."
(On his thoughts on reports of Hargreaves 'taking some plays off')
"We didn’t think it was a concern. In fact, I thought his competitiveness was one of the things that we really liked. You can pick two or three plays out on just about anybody, and there are different reasons for that particular play, whatever. Sometimes players take plays off. But we liked his competitiveness. And we like his ego. He's got an ego and that's what we like about corners. He's not afraid to go against anybody. He's ready to line up against the biggest and the best."
(On if he feels good about the Buccaneers' secondary)
"Yeah, I feel very good about it, especially with this addition."
(On what role Hargreaves will have in the secondary)
"We'll wait 'til he gets here and I'll let [Head] Coach [Dirk] Koetter answer that. But that was one thing we liked, we thought eventually he could play both. When that is, I'm not sure. I can't answer that."
(On if Tampa Bay would try to move back up in the first round)
"Like I said, we've gone through a ton of scenarios. There's always a chance of that. The phone rings and you never know what the other end of that phone is going to be and what they're going to be asking for."
(On if the Bucs had good intelligence on what the Giants would do at No. 10)
"We felt like we did. We trusted it. We trusted it. There's always that chance but we trusted the intel that we did have."
(On how much better he feels about the defense)
"I feel great. You can go upstairs and hear them jumping around right now. We feel very good. We still think we have needs. We wanted the board to come to us, the best available where it meets need, and this is where it was."
(On Hargreaves being the best pure cornerback in the draft)
"I thought he was the best cover corner in the draft, pure cover corner. When you say cover corner sometimes you think that the guy doesn't play in the run game, but this guy does. Like I said, he's built like a running back."
(On having knowledge on Hargreaves from former SEC coaches on Tampa Bay’s staff)
"Yeah. We do a lot of research. We talk to a lot of people. We talk to a lot of coaches, whether they're here – obviously we take our assistant coaches here, their opinions, very seriously. We talk to a lot of different people."
(On how special it is to pick a player who's from the area)
"It's a big added bonus when a guy, his dream is to play for the Bucs. That's a big added bonus. It was important. That's not why we drafted him but it is an added bonus. He was overjoyed when we called. This is where he wanted to be. I think I saw him wearing shoes with Bucs on it at some point. This is his home."
(On the phone conversation when Hargreaves was picked)
"I said, 'Are you ready to be a Buc?' And he said, 'Are you kidding me?'"
HEAD COACH DIRK KOETTER
“How’s everybody doing? Exciting night for the Bucs. Great to be able to get the guy that we were looking for and still pick up an extra pick in the fourth round, so we’re off to a good start.”
(On his views on cornerback Vernon Hargreaves as a former offensive coordinator)
“That’s a really good question and I think a real fair question. I mean, that’s one of the easiest ones you’re going to ask me tonight because this guy reminds me a lot of Brent Grimes. One of the things Jason does is we do ‘comparable players’ and this guy has excellent plant and drive, he’s quick, he’s tough. He can play off, he can play press, he can play supporting the run. He can play on both sides, possibly play inside at nickel. We’ll see when he gets here, but I think it’s a big win.”
(On if there was discussion about not trading picks with the Bears)
“No everybody was on board. Like Jason said, we had a pretty good idea where it was going to end up and that we were going to be able to still get our guy and pick up a pick. There’s a little risk involved there, but it worked out good.”
(On trying to be patient during the draft)
“[Laughs] It was very tough, it was very tough. Watching that clock tick up there – when it became clear that we were going to have a chance to get our guy, I thought it was never going to end and then we were holding everything because of TV and whatnot. It was. I’m not very patient to begin with, so that was tough.”
(On when the staff decided they were going to take Hargreaves)
“Depending on how the draft was going to fall tonight and then we had an order that we liked the guys and so if the draft would’ve gone a different way in front of us then our pick might have been different, but we don’t control that. We’re going to take the best guy that we have at the pick we have and we were able to take the best guy we had at nine and still get him at 11, but if the draft would’ve gone another way early it could have ended up another way.”
(On his thoughts on Hargreaves following his interview)
“I really like the kid’s confidence. I liked his confidence a lot. I thought he was very articulate, I thought he had bright eyes, I thought he was eager to learn, I thought he had a short memory. I think at corner in the NFL – the guys he’s going to be covering in our division – he’s going to need to have a short memory. We thought Jameis was maybe a little too overconfident last year, but that could be a good thing and I think that Vernon’s confidence is going to be an asset as well.”
(On the effect of being a coach’s son has on a player’s football intelligence)
“Yeah, I’m biased. I’m biased in that respect, but that’s something as a college coach I believed in. When we were recruiting guys in college it seemed like coach’s sons always faired a little bit better in the football smarts department. We’ll see if that’s true. I haven’t had the opportunity to meet Vernon’s dad. Some of our coaches have and speak very highly. I’m sure I’m going to get the chance here real soon.”
(On if the Rams and Eagles trading up in the draft helped the Buccaneers get the player they wanted)
“I’m not sure about that. I would imagine so, but I’m not sure. We were hoping there were five quarterbacks taken in the first round. The more quarterbacks that were picked in the first round and the top ten the better off it was for us. Again, we can’t worry about stuff we can’t control. We had a ranking and short of going up for a player – you see how many draft picks teams are giving up to go up and get players and that’s not something we felt was in our best interest right now. We had our ranking and it hit home, so everybody is happy.”
(On where the coaching staff believes Hargreaves best position is)
“We’re still trying to evaluate with our current defensive players we have and that’s where the mini-camp the last few days – in fact right after our pick or defensive staff was heading to the film room to take a look at some practice tape from this week. We’re still trying to evaluate all that. With Vernon going to be in here next weekend and we’ll get a chance to look at him in rookie min-camp, that’s something that we’re going to have to work out. But that’s nothing different than your three wide receiver sets – figuring out who you’re going to play inside-outside. That’ll all fall into place.”
(On how much Buccaneers coaches who coached against Hargreaves in college endorsed him as a player)
“[Secondary coach Jon] Hoke and [defensive backs coach Brett] Maxie – the most on that because of their familiarity. Again, let’s not forget that Vernon is a three-time All-SEC defensive back and there’s some pretty good football played in that league and some pretty good coaches voting for him. Of course we – as Jason said, we listen to our coaches and we listen to our scouts. Again, if you look at the film – if you look at 1,500 plays of film on anybody you’re going to find some plays that you don’t like, but you can say that about every single player in the draft.”
(On the improvement of the secondary through free agency and the draft)
“Hopefully. That’s talk. I can stand up here and say anything I want to, but we have to back it up at some point. I will tell you this – just being out there, I don’t know you guys might not be able to see that part of practice – but every day in practice Brent Grimes showed up. There’s no doubt in my mind we added a top-flight corner when we added Brent Grimes in free agency and if you don’t believe me, ask our offensive players when you see them next week. That was a starting point through free agency. Of course, he’s not the only guy we added and then we added another guy tonight in Vernon in the draft.”
(On if he spoke with current Florida Head Coach Jim McElwain or former Florida Head Coach Will Muschamp)
“I did not, but Jason and his staff did. That’s not my role in this thing, but our personnel people definitely spoke with the Florida coaches.”
(On if he wanted to draft an offensive player in the first round)
“[Laughs] I think over the last two years the numbers are stacked against the offense right now. I don’t think anybody could look anybody else in the eye and saying that we need to be drafting offense. We need to draft on defense. There’s a lot of good football players out there. Let’s hope next year we’re not picking at nine. Let’s hope we’re picking a lot further back, but when you’re picking at nine there’s good football players. I mean, you can be tempted by a lot of things, but we got a really good pick tonight and we’re happy with it.”
(On if he spoke to Winston about Vernon Hargreaves)
“I’ve been waiting for my phone for a text from Jameis to see what his advice was. No, he didn’t offer any. Again, if you guys only knew the hours and hours and hours of time that’s spent on this and the system that Jason has in place. I’m a ‘trust the system’ guy. That’s how I am as a coach and that’s how I believe we should do it in personnel and we stuck to that.”
(On Hargreaves father being a football coach)
“I’m sure it was. We talked with him about that when he’s here. You know, everybody that stands up here is going to talk about if their guys love football or not and it really appeared to me that Vernon loves football, loves the game and I think that’s a big plus.”
CORNERBACK VERNON HARGREAVES III
(On his experience at Wharton High School in Tampa with Coach David Mitchell)
“Those were great, those were great. You know, Coach Mitchell’s a great coach. [He] made me work hard, he taught me how to work hard, he taught me how to be a great player, how to be the best and I’m excited to be back home.”
(On what the experience has been like leading up to the Draft)
“It’s surreal, it’s surreal. Don’t really know what to feel right now. Super excited and kind of ready to get started. Ready to put some work in.”
(On General Manager Jason Licht’s comment that he likes Hargreaves’ ego)
“I have confidence and I’m not afraid to show it. I’m very confident in myself, very confident in my abilities and that’s how I carry myself. I carry myself to a high standard.”
(On how his experience facing top receivers in the SEC prepares him for the NFL)
“Of course. Well, playing in the SEC gave me the experience and the opportunity to cover guys of that caliber. Seeing them already and seeing what they’re capable of and seeing how good they are, before I actually get to the NFL I have to see them live on Sundays. It’s great for me. It gives me more confidence, it gives me something to work with, gives me a place to start on how I can slow these guys down.”
(On what went through his mind when he got the phone call from Licht)
“It was awesome. It was the best thing I ever could have asked for. It’ was a dream come true.”
(On his skills and how they can help Tampa Bay)
“I’m just an overall good football player. Love to play ball, can adapt to any type of defense, any type of receiver. I’ve covered them all. I can play bump coverage, can play man coverage. All of that is in my game and now it’s time to perfect my craft.”
(On if his heart skipped a beat when Tampa Bay traded their pick at No. 9)
“Actually, I have to give a lot of credit to my agent. I talked to him last night and he said that they might trade back to 11, and he said it just like that. So when they actually traded back, that’s when my heart dropped because I was like, ‘Oh, wow, he was actually kind of right.’ And he turned out being right.”
(On what kind of emotion he’ll have in his first game in front of his hometown crowd)
“I mean, I don’t even know. I don’t even know if I can put that into words. I’ll have to wait until it happens – I’ll have to wait until after the first game, and then you’ll have to ask me that again.”
(On if being drafted by Tampa Bay is what he wanted all along)
“Of course, of course. I mean, it doesn’t get better than this. It doesn’t get better than to get drafted by your home team. You know, I’m forty minutes away from the facilities and it’s great. I can see my mom when I want to now, it’s awesome. It’s great.”
(On what it will be like to have quarterback Jameis Winston as a teammate)
“Oh, man, it’ll be great. Good old Florida State-Florida rivalry. Hopefully I can get him a few times in practice and you know, it’s great. He’s going to make me a better player and I’m going to make him a better player and we’re going to become a better team.”
(On if he has a Twitter account)
“No, that’s a fake account. I do not have a Twitter account. I only have an Instagram account.”
(On how he’s going to handle the pressure of playing at home)
“I have my little saying, it’s, ‘Pressure makes diamonds,’ so I love the pressure. And you know what? There is no pressure playing at home. I’m at home, I’m comfortable.”
(On Licht having known Hargreaves’ father for a long time and how that might have impacted the decision)
“Well, I would assume that it helped me a lot. I mean, knowing my father for that long obviously makes him a little bit more comfortable with my family and getting to know me and it’s great. It’s just an advantage, I guess.”