Following OTA practice Tuesday, Dennis Allen confirmed something many of us had noticed since the first rookie minicamp - Wide receiver Conner Vernon looks great.
He was asked which undrafted free agents have stood out to him and this was his response:
"Oh gosh, there's so many new faces, it's hard to keep up with all of them. I think some of those guys have done a nice job. A guy like Conner Vernon is a guy that stood out a little bit. I guess that would be one guy that I would say."
From the first day of rookie OTA's, Vernon was someone I noticed was no ordinary undrafted free agent rookie. Here is what I said of Vernon in rookie minicamps:
"While (Brice) Butler was stretching the field, Vernon was having his way underneath. He was masterful as the slot receiver in this offense. He looked smooth and polished in individual drills and didn't miss a beat in the team drills. He looks to be everything Raiders fans hoped he would be coming in as the ACC all-time career receiving leader and is officially on watch to be the next UDFA gem for the Raiders."
Vernon is already shaping up to force Dennis Allen to make a tough decision. There are currently seven receivers who are worthy of making the regular season roster. Most teams don't carry a maximum of six receivers. The one reason the Raiders could opt for seven is two of them are pulling double duty as return men - Josh Cribbs and Jacoby Ford.
One of the other receivers is Rod Streater whose emergence signaled the trading of Louis Murphy prior to the beginning of last season. The team would likely have had to make the tough decision to cut Murphy had they not traded him.
Vernon is a slot receiver which means he would likely back up Jacoby Ford for the time being. And with Ford's injury history, having some insurance is a very valuable thing.
The current wide receivers who all have a legitimate shot at making the roster are Denarius Moore, Juron Criner, Brice Butler, Streater, Cribbs, Ford, and Vernon. It's a good problem to have.