(Editor's Note: With just one month until the start of the 2016 NFL Draft on April 28, the staff of DallasCowboys.com intends to preview the landscape of possible Cowboys draft picks – from the top of the first round to the bottom of the talent pool. Today's featured player is Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III.)
Name: Vernon Hargreaves III
Honors: Finalist for the 2015 Jim Thorpe Award given to the best defensive back in college football; consensus All-American in 2015; semifinalist the last two years for the Chuck Bednarik Award given to the best defensive player in college football.
Key Stat: Hargreaves is a ballhawking cornerback prospect with 38 pass breakups in only three seasons at Florida, along with 10 career interceptions for the Gators.
Where He's Projected: Many mock drafts view Hargreaves as a top-two defensive back in this year's class – joined by Florida State's Jalen Ramsey – and likely to get drafted somewhere in the top half of the first round.
How He Helps the Cowboys: The Cowboys were active in the free-agent cornerback market in March, and although they haven't made a signing to date, they clearly have looked at possibly improving their depth at the position. Morris Claiborne is back on a one-year deal, Orlando Scandrick is returning from 2015 knee surgery, and Brandon Carr remains on the roster despite ever-present chatter about his salary cap number. Byron Jones' permanent position ultimately might be safety. At least three and preferably four proven corners are needed in today's pass-first NFL, and Hargreaves figures to be able to step in and help an NFL defense as a rookie. At 5-10, he doesn't have ideal height to match up with some of the league's bigger receivers, but he was highly productive and Florida and has the athleticism and recognition skills that translate well to the next level. His father, Vernon, was a two-time All-American at Connecticut and most recently coached linebackers at Arkansas in 2015.[embeddedad0]
Scout's Take: Can flip his hips and maintain position. Quick footed. Will drive on the ball out zone. Will come off his man to help in coverage. Keeps his eyes on the quarterback. Dives at ankles as a tackler. Explosive out of his break. Nice reactions. Doesn't let his man off the line. Ease of movement. Sideline is best friend as a tackler. Will get pushed by bigger receivers. Will lose ball in route at times. Best as a press-man corner where he can get his hands on his man and stay with him. Has some catch-up speed. Sneaky in the way he plays press. Start-stop quickness. There are snaps where he plays small when it comes to tackling. – Bryan Broaddus