Olivier Vernon, DE, Miami, Fla.
6-foot-2, 261 pounds
Draft projection: fourth or fifth round
Lowdown: Vernon has the body of a quality pass rusher. But he’s very raw and entered the draft a year early, before getting the chance to develop his skills. He was caught up in Miami’s booster scandal last fall and was suspended for the first six games for accepting about $1,200 in benefits from booster Nevin Shapiro. (Seven other Hurricanes were suspended, too.) He managed 1.5 sacks in the final six games. As a sophomore in 2010, he had six sacks, 3.5 of them coming against Florida A&M. He also had 10.5 tackles for loss. The fact he left Miami early while still so green will have scouts wondering about his “stick-to-itveness.” Still, his good initial burst and long arms (33 inches) make him an intriguing prospect. He ran a pretty good 40 time (4.80) at the combine. He had a broad jump of 10 feet, 2 inches, fourth best at his position. He has the tools to succeed in the NFL. But he’s a projection because of his limited production.
Vernon on the suspension: "I was in high school and the person who recruited me introduced me to Nevin Shapiro. I met with him on three occasions, and when he got incarcerated he said I took benefits from him. That's what happened. that's what got me six games."
On declaring for the draft: "I played solid games, and after the season I just told my parents I'm leaving. I just had confidence in myself; I knew I was ready, I knew I had the right skill set."