2014 NFL Draft: Bears Trade Up To Take Safety Brock Vereen Late in the Fourth Round

2014 NFL Draft: Bears Trade Up To Take Safety Brock Vereen Late in the Fourth Round

It wasn’t a matter of if they would take a safety, but when the Bears would select one in the 2014 NFL Draft.

On Saturday afternoon, the Bears decided to trade up in the fourth round to get their man in safety Brock Vereen from the University of Minnesota at No. 131. They traded their fifth round selection (No. 156) this year and in next year’s draft to choose Vereen and acquire a seventh round selection (No. 246) in the process.

The younger brother of New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen, Brock started 36 games in four seasons at Minnesota.

The 6-0, 199 pound defensive back played at cornerback and safety for the Gophers, but is expected to compete as a free safety with the Bears.

In 2013, he recorded 59 tackles, six pass deflections, a forced fumble and an interception as a senior. He started all 13 games, making his first six starts at safety, before moving over to cornerback for the final seven.

He impressed scouts at the NFL Combine with a 4.47 40-yard dash which was second best among defensive backs. He led all defensive backs with 25 reps on the bench press.

Vereen converted to safety in the spring of 2012. He suffered a torn meniscus in spring practices, but started seven of the final eight games at safety.  He registered 64 tackles, nine pass deflections and two interceptions in 13 games.

Prior to making the move to safety, Vereen started all 12 games at cornerback in 2011, making 67 tackles, seven pass breakups and an interception. As a freshman in 2012, he made four starts at cornerback, making 10 tackles.

The Bears needed a safety and clearly general manager Phil Emery and Co. felt that Vereen could provide them with plenty of talent at the position.

Ryan Mundy should man one of the starting spots after coming over this off-season, but after that things are up in the air with Chris Conte, M.D. Jennings, Craig Steltz, and Danny McCray all are backups at best.

Vereen is a leader on and off the field something that marks a true Chicago Bear and he performed very well at both corner and safety for the Gophers. One of the biggest reasons for Vereen being around in the fourth is the fact that he had only four interceptions in four collegiate seasons.

ESPN’s NFL Draft analyst Todd McShay says this about Vereen, “he’s fast, he’s physical, he’s a steal.”

Breakdown of Vereen’s game according to NFL.com is below.

STRENGTHS

Very good athlete with fluid movement skills and good range. Competes hard. Runs the alley and can negotiate traffic. Good zone awareness and route recognition. Understands angles and leverage. Can carry receivers in man coverage with little wasted movement in transition on speed turns. Good leaping ability. Very smart, motivated, team player with a passion for the game. Can line up the defense. Outstanding work ethic. Contributes as a gunner on special teams. Has NFL pedigree. His 25 bench-press reps were most among DBs at the combine, and his 4.07-second short shuttle was second among safeties.

WEAKNESSES

Has tiny hands, short arms and lacks overall bulk. Does not have ideal length to match up with NFL tight ends in coverage. Not an explosive hitter or forceful tackler. Hands are suspect — smothers the ball and has just four career interceptions. Long-term durability could be a concern.

BOTTOM LINE

Intelligent, athletic, rangy free safety with desirable strength and cover skills to go along with football bloodlines. Needs to improve against the run but is instinctive and brings terrific intangibles that could propel him into a role as a starter and defensive leader.

Final Thoughts
The Bears took care of their front four before they added a safety and that’s something they’ve been known to value more for a long time even before the Lovie Smith-Jerry Angelo era.Major Wright and Conte were both third rounders and showed some flashes of solid play with the defensive line playing consistently well. Wright is gone and Conte is barely hanging around.Vereen is a fresh face in the secondary. That is something the Bears have needed for quite sometime. Danieal Manning is really the last true safety the Bears have been able to develop.

He should get a chance to help out right away since one if not both safety spots are open. Vereen has the ball skills to keep up on the back end, but he needs to improve his run defense something that the Bears value a ton in the Cover-2 scheme.

Overall, the addition is Vereen is a good one and Emery is smart for trading up to grab his man. The future of this new revamped defense is looking better after each selection.

What’s Next?
The Bears still have two more picks in the 2014 draft: in the sixth round (Nos. 183 and 191) and the seventh round (No. 246).
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