NFL Draft 2013 Preview: Duke Prospects

Will Duke Wideout Conner Vernon Be the First Blue Devil Drafted Since 2004?

Will Duke Wideout Conner Vernon Be the First Blue Devil Drafted Since 2004?

Leading up to this month’s NFL Draft, we’ll be taking a look at each ACC‘s school’s prospects and where they’re slated to be chosen. While 50 ACC players were invited to the NFL Draft Combine, those not in attendance also have ample opportunity to hear their name called between April 25 through 27.

After four phenomenal years at Duke, the school bids farewell to two of the cornerstones of David Cutcliffe’s rebuilding project. And, despite all of their accolades with the Blue Devils, there’s still a decent likelihood both could be waiting around until day three of the draft. Is it fair? Not exactly. But until Duke can churn out successful NFL talent on a regular basis (this would be the first time since 2004 that a Blue Devil is drafted), the program will have to deal with some doubt from the outside.

Conner Vernon, WR, Senior (Projected: Fourth/Fifth Round)

Vernon leaves Duke as the school and ACC’s all-time leading receiver — an accomplishment that has not gone unnoticed by scouts in the lead-up to the NFL Draft. While the 6’1″ 196-pound receiver may appear to lack the size and speed (4.54-second 40-yard dash) to be a consistent deep threat in the pros, it’s his route-running smarts and overall focus that have some evaluators really excited. With great timing, great hands and a keen understanding of pressure situations (shouldering the hopes of a program is no easy feat), he’s a perfect slot receiver that cold provide great value for whoever picks him on day three.

Sean Renfree, QB, Senior (Projected: Seventh Round)

Renfree may not have always put up the gaudiest numbers season-by-season as a Blue Devil, but when you look back at his resume and see over 9,400 passing yards and 50 touchdowns, that’s hard to overlook. The standout passer is the program’s winningest quarterback in well over a decade and despite a less-than-stellar offensive line, he’s shown himself fully capable of hanging tough in the pocket and delivering key passes in the right spots (see: last-minute victory over North Carolina this season). A shoulder injury in the lead-up to the East-West Shrine Game certainly set him back a bit, since he could not throw at the game, at the Combine or Duke’s pro day, but for for those who’ve watched tape of him over the last few seasons, he’s a no-brainer selection in the seventh round.

Previously: Boston College, Clemson

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