Raiders UDFA Conner Vernon player profile

Mark Dolejs-US PRESSWIRE

The Raiders signed former Duke WR Conner Vernon to a deal as an undrafted free agent. Does Vernon have what it takes to make the team?

One of the Raiders' weak spots in recent seasons has been the wide receiving corps. The team only selected one WR in the draft, Brice Butler from San Diego State. However, they also elected to sign a few receivers as undrafted free agents, most notably among them Duke's Conner Vernon.

Vernon comes into the league with good bloodlines, being cousins with NFL great Al Del Greco who was the placekicker for several teams including the Packers and Oilers over a 17-year career.

For his own part, Vernon is the all-time ACC leader in receptions and receiving yards. He had 20 touchdowns as a four-year starter at Duke, with 273 receptions for 3,630 yards including 85 catches for 1074 yards and 8 touchdowns as a senior helping him to earn All ACC second team three consecutive seasons. He was projected by most draft publications as a mid-round pick in the draft and could still prove he is was indeed worthy of such a grade.

While he may not be exceptionally fast, he is known as an outstanding route runner with hands of glue. He won't be a serious deep threat, but with his 4.5 speed he is ideal for a slot underneath role similar to what Wes Welker has run in New England for the last several seasons. Vernon, however, is almost four inches taller than Welker and can go up to make the tough catches over the middle.

Vernon has a legitimate shot at making the team and I can foresee him having a role for the 2013 Raiders similar to that of Rod Streater in 2012, or Jacoby Ford in previous seasons when healthy. With the departure of Darrius Heyward-Bey there is a roster spot up for grabs and Vernon has shown the skills and dependability to fill that spot.

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