With the NFL Draft entering the fourth round this morning, Duke wide receiver Conner Vernon could get drafted any second now.
The nifty wide receiver would be a solid selection for any team looking to add a pair of reliable hands in the passing game.
Connor Vernon, Duke
Height – 6’0
Weight – 180 lbs
40-time – 4.68s
Vernon leaves Duke with one of the more impressive careers in Atlantic Coast Conference history for a receiver, setting the ACC records in career receiving yards, consecutive games with a reception and career receptions.
He is a versatile receiver, possessing both the size to play on the outside and the quickness and shiftiness to maintain effectiveness in the slot. While he won’t burn anyone with breakaway speed or acceleration, he has the ability to twist and turn around the field for extra yards. In addition, Vernon is one of those rare players with a knack for getting open, always seeming to pop up in open areas in the field or finding creative ways to create separation from coverage. This can be attributed to his tight route-running and high football IQ, as he never has had the ability to runaway from everyone.
As previously stated, his weaknesses are simple: he isn’t overly quick and he is very below-average when it comes to strength and blocking abilities. His idea of blocking appears to be to simply throw himself at the defender, rather than engage. As stated by NFL.com:
Won’t chase down a defender to block them, chooses to run them off instead. When blocking contact is made, it is usually with a shoulder and very ineffective.
His lack of strength showed against the more physical corners, as he struggled to wiggle out of jams and get into his route.
In conclusion, there is a lot of potential for Vernon. He was praised by Eli and Peyton Manning following their workouts with Duke HC Dave Cutcliffe in Durham earlier this month, with Eli saying the following:
“The last couple of years I’ve worked out with Conner a little bit, thrown routes with him, played 7-on-7 with him a few years ago, and he kept getting open,” Eli said. “I noticed that I keep going his way. He’s my first read on some things, and he’s winning on some post routes and go routes. The last couple years with Coach Cutcliffe and watching Duke, he has a lot of catches every game and a lot of touchdowns. It’s been fun to watch him.”
It could be a year or two before he gets a really strong grasp on the NFL game, but he will make a reliable target for whichever team picks him up.
As an added bonus, here is a highlight reel: