Olivier Vernon: Miami Dolphins' Rookie Rises to the Occasion

Connor McKnightSenior Analyst IOctober 17, 2012

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 14: Quarterback  Sam Bradford #8 of the St. Louis Rams is sacked by  Olivier Vernon #50 of the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on October 14, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Last Sunday, Sam Bradford made a new best friend. The two connected twice throughout the afternoon and it definitely did not end pretty.

Rookie defensive end Olivier Vernon had a career game against the St. Louis Rams. With his constant quarterback pressure, he was able to break through the offensive line and sack Bradford on two separate occasions for a total of 11 yards.

And he has just gotten started.

Considering the sheer strength of the Miami defensive line, it is incredible enough that Vernon, as a rookie, has been able to earn himself significant snaps on defense. With the likes of Cameron Wake (6.5 sacks) and Jared Odrick (two sacks) lining up at defensive end, Vernon's accomplishments so far this season become all the more impressive.

A third-round pick in the 2012 Draft out of the University of Miami, Vernon was taken by the hometown team, having been born in Miami as well. Vernon worked hard in training camp and was able to earn a roster spot after a relatively solid preseason.

Considering Miami's prowess on stopping the run, Vernon was quickly brought into the strongest aspect of the Dolphin defense. To this very point, opposing teams are averaging just 78.2 rushing yards a game, the fifth lowest in the NFL.

But Vernon has shown his expertise in getting to the quarterback. In Week 3, he shared a sack of Mark Sanchez with Jared Odrick, which was merely telling of what was to come against the Rams.

Although his snaps will be limited throughout the rest of the season, Vernon will definitely be a player to keep an eye on as he matures as a member of this elite defensive line. With Cameron Wake as a mentor, the future looks bright for Olivier Vernon.