With the NFL Draft’s third day approaching tomorrow at noon, and two Blue Devils in Sean Renfree and Conner Vernon in contention to be selected, writers from The Chronicle sat down to predict where they believe the duo will land and why.
- Zac Elder—Seventh round, 217th overall to the Miami Dolphins. Although not listed at the top of anyone’s list at wide receiver, Vernon stands a good chance being selected in the late rounds. If teams can overlook his lack of physicality and 4.68 40-time at the NFL Combine, then Vernon might get scooped up in one of the later rounds by a team looking for a solid receiver who can also handle punt and kickoff return duties. Vernon, a local Miami product, has drawn a number of comparisons to former Dolphin receiver Wes Welker, who began his successful NFL career with this franchise.
- Michael Schreiner—Fifth round, 149th overall to the St. Louis Rams. Vernon has been a sleeper pick of many in the lead up to the draft, and the upside he presents as a No. 2 receiver justifies the buzz. He does not have the quickness or size to be the big play guy, but he executes and will do well as a possession receiver. He is also polished and can make an immediate impact in the NFL, which is exactly what the Rams need with only three of last season’s receivers projected to be on this year’s roster.
- Daniel Carp—Sixth round, 199th overall to the Baltimore Ravens. The defending Super Bowl champs have some holes to fill at receiver since the loss of Anquan Boldin, and with a bevy of picks in the late rounds of this year’s NFL Draft, Vernon would be a wise choice. Ravens head coach Jon Harbaugh will value the Duke receiver’s work ethic and route-running ability, leading him to use one of his picks at the end of the sixth round on him. You could see Vernon come off the board as early as round five, but some average workouts this offseason could cost him on Draft day.
- Zac Elder—Undrafted. Bad news for Renfree—only one quarterback (Florida State’s E.J. Manuel) was drafted in the first round of Thursday night’s NFL Draft. And with top prospects Geno Smith, Ryan Nassib, Tyler Wilson and Matt Barkley still left on the board, the former Duke star’s hopes of being selected are slim. After tearing a pectoral muscle in the Belk Bowl, Renfree has not had the opportunity to elevate his draft stock and impress NFL coaches and scouts as some other draft hopefuls have done.
- Michael Schreiner—Seventh round, 240th overall to the Cincinnati Bengals. The pectoral injury he suffered in the Belk Bowl has hurt his chances of getting drafted, but his limited downside should still be enough to convince a team to spend its final pick on Renfree. Aside from a weak arm that will likely limit his upside, Renfree presents little risk to potential suitors. Duke head coach David Cutcliffe compared his work ethic to Peyton Manning, and as a reserve with Cincinnati he would push those ahead of him while also representing a viable second string option down the road.
- Daniel Carp—Sixth round, 183rd overall to the New Orleans Saints. Four months ago, Sean Renfree’s chances of hearing his name called at the NFL Draft seemed miniscule. But despite not having thrown a football since late December, Renfree’s draft stock has only continued to rise thanks to ringing endorsements from the likes of David Cutcliffe and Peyton Manning. Renfree could come off the board as early as the fifth round and could be taken before his teammate Conner Vernon. In fact, I think he will. The New Orleans Saints will be in the market for a young quarterback in the late rounds of this year’s draft, and Renfree could be the guy they turn to. Renfree also would be a great fit with the New England Patriots, but they only hold three picks after the fourth round—all late in the seventh. A bold prediction could be the Pats package their three picks to move up into the mid-sixth round and grab Renfree, but all fake trades aside, New Orleans’ pass-happy offense would be a good fit for the former Duke signal-caller.