Vernon Hargreaves is expected to be the first Gator taken in the 2016 NFL Draft.
There aren’t many who will argue against that sentence.
But there’s a lot of debate over whether Hargreaves will be a top-10 pick. Some have the the 5-foot-10, 204-pound cornerback going in the top 10, but many also have him just outside of the top 10.
Out of the seven different mock drafts NFL.com has up, five of them have Hargreaves being drafted in the top 10.
NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah has Hargreaves going the highest at No. 5 to the Jacksonville Jaguars. But two others — NFL draft analysts Lance Zierlein and Chad Reuter — have Hargreaves being taken by the Miami Dolphins at No. 13.
“He just stands out now,” Gators coach Jim McElwain said of Hargreaves at Florida’s Pro Day on March 22. “He’s as talented as there is. I’m sure he’ll be the No. 1 DB picked. He’ll go awfully high and he should. He’s not only a great player, but he’s a great student of the game. That will take him a long ways.”
CBS Sports ranks Hargreaves as the top cornerback in the draft and as the 10th-best overall prospect.
Concerns over Hargreaves’ size and recovery speed could keep him out of the top 10, according to NFL.com. However, NFL.com also writes that Hargreaves “possesses the football makeup to become a Pro Bowl cornerback” with his “top-notch ball skills and exceptional instincts.”
With NFL.com mock drafts projecting Hargreaves to go anywhere from No. 5 to No. 13, there is millions of dollars at stake.
Last year’s No. 5 pick, Redskins offensive lineman Brandon Scherff, signed a four-year contract worth $21.2 million with a $13.7 million signing bonus. Last year’s No. 13 pick, Saints offensive lineman Andrus Peat, signed a four-year contract worth $11.39 million with a $6.55 million signing bonus.
Since Hargreaves’ sophomore year when former Gators defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson told him he had the potential to be one of the top picks in the NFL Draft, he has been working toward being a top-10 selection. Now, all Hargreaves can do is wait until the start of the draft on April 28 to find out if it will become a reality.
“(Robinson) just gave me the confidence that you can do it,” Hargreaves said at Florida’s Pro Day. “You can do whatever you want. You can go in the first round. You can be the first pick. You can do whatever you want. From there I just put my head down and I’ve been grinding since I got here.”