It looks like Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie has found another impact undrafted free agent this year in Conner Vernon.
The 6-foot wide receiver out of Duke was the ACC’s all-time leader in both reception and receiving yards, which proves that Vernon has what it takes to become a go-to receiver. Vernon is also a high character guy who puts in his fair share of time in the film room. It was because of a slow 40-yard dash time that Vernon was not drafted.
Although the Raiders do have some game-breaking wide receivers in Rod Streater, Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford, they are not really possession receivers. Vernon can fit the role of a go-to-guy for new quarterback Matt Flynn.
Vernon can lineup on the outside and in the slot this year for the Raiders. At worst, he would have a similar role to former Raiders wide receiver Derek Hagan. It would not be surprising if Vernon put up similar numbers to Streater’s last year.
We still don’t know if tight end David Ausberry will make the jump to a solid starter this year. With the lack of a true tight end threat, the importance of a wide receiver with dependable hands is even more vital for the new-look Raiders’ offense.
Last year, all three of the Raiders starting receivers went down to injuries, so it is of utmost importance that Vernon plays a key role for the silver-and-black.
McKenzie continues to prove that he is bringing the Raiders on the right track by finding bargains like Vernon and Streater. When the Raiders inevitably make a playoff push in a few seasons, it will be because of solid depth players that McKenzie continues to find.
Jorge Contreras is an Oakland Raiders writer for RantSports.com. Follow Jorge on Twitter @jraycontreras