It looks like Tampa Bay will get contributions from their first- and second-round draft picks in 2016 — but that also sounds increasingly like it could be a double-edged sword.
On a positive note, first-round defensive back Vernon Hargreaves is beginning to show he can be an immediate upgrade in the Bucs secondary. Greg Auman for the Tampa Bay Times reports the Florida product is running with the first-team defense, initially as the nickel cornerback. However, Auman’s colleague Rick Stroud noted that Hargreaves was starting opposite Brent Grimes on the outside on Tuesday, even intercepting quarterback Robert Griffin III during a joint practice with the Cleveland Browns.
It’s of little surprise that Hargreaves, the 11th-overall pick and a two-time All-American, would crack the lineup quickly. What’s happening with the Bucs’ second-round selection, on the other hand, is the opposite of what the team hoped for and expected.
Nobody was quite sure what the Bucs were thinking when they traded up 15 spots and took kicker Roberto Aguayo, aside from attempting to solidify their kicking game. So far, the decision couldn’t look much more foolish.
Aguayo has had issues in both preseason games, missing an extra point in the Bucs’ opener and going 2 for 4 on field-goal attempts in Week 2. The issues have extended into practice as well, where NFL insider Rob Cummings was one of many to observe Aguayo hitting just 3 of 6 field-goal tries during 11-on-11s on Tuesday. This sudden case of the yips is astounding considering he posted an 88.5 percent accuracy rate on field goals at Florida State, and even has him working with a “mental coach” per ESPN’s Jenna Laine.
“We’ve talked to him. He knows what he has to do,” Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter said per Stroud, adding that they believe the problem is mental. “I think so and I think he believes that.”
The problem the Bucs face is they have little option but to simply hope Aguayo gets it figured out. They’re not going to cut a second-round pick, who even despite his struggles is talented enough that he would surely wind up on somebody’s roster. Perhaps the only alternative would be if Tampa Bay picks up another kicker until they feel comfortable with Aguayo, but you don’t often see teams using three combined roster spots on kickers and punters.
Perhaps the only real solution is to let Aguayo work through it, but that could lead to disastrous results once the regular season begins. So just like Hargreaves, it seems Aguayo is likely to make a huge impact as a rookie. Whether that’s a good thing or not remains to be seen.