Former Duke wide receiver Connor Vernon is one of the most intriguing offensive prospects in the 2013 draft. On the field, he's versatile enough to play almost any receiver position out there.
During his workouts, it's a whole different story.
Vernon is a bit of a tweener, between an outside receiver and a slot player. And with the recent surge of slot receivers in the NFL, he'll have a good shot at hearing his name called sometime during the weekend in late April.
The ACC's all-time leading receiver may not be a first-rounder, but that doesn't mean he can't play in the league. I'll show you why he can.
There's a reason Vernon caught no less than 55 balls in his four-year starting career with the Blue Devils, and it's certainly not because of his 4.68 40-yard time.
Simply put, Vernon runs some pretty beautiful routes.
Vernon can really plant the cut foot in the ground and get just enough separation for his quarterback to thread the ball in there. That's something that could do wonders for him in an NFL offense.
Vernon certainly isn't the biggest or fastest receiver in the draft. Yet, somehow, the guy can just pick up those extra yards when you need them.
It's very rare to see Vernon go down as soon as he catches the ball, and even if only one player makes the tackle, it's a struggle. Generally, it takes one guy to hold and the other to help bring Vernon to the ground.
Yards after the catch are very important in today's NFL. Teams with lesser offensive lines rely on their short-passing game to keep their QBs upright. If they have a receiver who can pick up some extra yards, it goes a lot further toward a win.
If a receiver doesn't have ideal size, strength or speed, he better be able to catch the football. And that's something Vernon does very well.
But it's not just the simple balls that Vernon brings in. He's very good at shielding defenders with his body and making the tough grabs when he knows a big hit isn't too far behind him.
Just check out the video. The one thing that stands out is that Vernon always puts himself in the best position to make a play on the ball AND keep the defender from turning it into a big play. Nothing flashy, but great fundamentals.
The theme throughout this piece has pretty much been that Vernon can't rely on his speed at the next level, and that's true. But he's got a very sneaky quickness about him.
Combine this with Vernon's route-running ability, and his quickness provides a nice little boost to the Duke offense.
Watch in the video as Vernon's cuts past the two Boston College defenders right to the ground. Can't make plays like that without quickness.
Throughout his career with the Blue Devils, Vernon played on the outside. If he wants to stay outside in the NFL, he'll need to rely on his ability to run the deep routes.
Vernon isn't going to blow past anybody, but he's got a very sneaky ability to make plays down the field. It may have something to do with him putting himself in good positions or the fact that he plays the ball well, but Vernon simply makes plays.
Virginia wasn't the best team in the ACC, but then again, Vernon didn't have a great QB throwing him the ball either. He still made the best out of it.