Vernon’s lineage portended he would be a successful kicker in the SEC, not a wide receiver. His cousin, Al Del Greco, and uncle, Jorge Portela, both booted the ball for Auburn, and Del Greco went on to kick in the NFL for 18 years (347 field goals made, 77.3 percent) with the Green Bay Packers, St. Louis/Phoenix Cardinals, and Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans franchises. Duke coaches and NFL scouts are both glad Vernon has stuck as a pass-catcher, however, as his strong hands and tight routes have made him one of the most reliable targets in this draft class.
The Miami product led the metro area in receiving yards with 1,163 as a senior (scoring 11 times). He couldn’t be kept off the field as a true freshman, starting eight times in 11 games (missed the Kansas game with a foot injury) and finishing second in the country among freshmen with 55 catches (for 746 yards and three scores) while also averaging 24.6 yards per kickoff return. Vernon started every game and was a second-team All-ACC pick as both a sophomore (73-973, 4 TD) and junior (70-956, 6 TD). Vernon's senior season was his biggest yet, as he caught 85 passes for 1,074 yards and 8 touchdowns. This season earned him Coaches first-team All-ACC honors. Vernon finished his career as the ACC's all-time leader in pass receptions and receiving yardage.
Outside receiver in most sets, has enough size to play that role at the next level and the quickness to line up inside as well. Difficult to bring down on first contact, especially on a bubble screen. Is not afraid of going up to get a high target, even with a defender closing. Contorts body on underthrown vertical routes, slows stride and high points the pass in front of an awaiting defensive back. Can adequately eat up cushion. Understands how to run routes and get open. As a punt returner, takes the straight-line approach. Tracks vertical throws well, even when bracketed by defenders. Also understands when to take a chance after the catch and when to pick up the given yardage.
Lacks speed or great quickness. Won’t chase down a defender to block them, chooses to run them off instead. When blocking contact is made, it is usually with a shoulder and very ineffective. Has difficulties getting a free release from a jam, route is held up in the first three steps. Occasionally miss times jumps when high pointing, leaving too early. Cuts lack burst. Does not change speeds, more of a glider. Creates separation with the route not the explosion in cuts.
The cousin of former NFL kicker Al Del Greco uses his feet to run tight routes instead of booting the ball through the uprights. His hands are what intrigue scouts the most, however, as Vernon managed to become the all-time ACC leader in receptions and receiving yards for a Duke squad not really for its offensive acumen. He likely profiles as a "big slot" in the NFL.
Future Hall of Famer
A once-in-a-generation type prospect who could change how his position is played
An impact player with the ability/intangibles to become a Pro Bowl player. Expect to start immediately except in a unique situation (i.e. behind a veteran starter).
A quality player who will contribute to the team early on and is expected to develop into a starter. A reliable player who brings value to the position.
A prospect with the ability to make team as a backup/role player. Needs to be a special teams contributor at applicable positions. Players in the high range of this category might have long-term potential.
A player with solid measurables, intangibles, college achievements, or a developing skill that warrants an opportunity in an NFL camp. In the right situation, he could earn a place on a 53-man roster, but most likely will be a practice squad player or a camp body.