LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears traded their fifth-round pick (156 overall) and a fifth in 2015 to the Denver Broncos to move up in the fourth round of Saturday’s NFL draft to select Minnesota safety Brock Vereen 131st overall.
My take: The acquisition of Vereen fills yet another pressing need for the Bears, who so far have used every draft pick to address holes in the roster. Because of Chicago’s heavy investment in the defensive line in free agency, the club signed lesser known players at the safety position in free agency in M.D. Jennings, Danny McCray and Ryan Mundy. Throw in the uncertainty brought about by Chris Conte’s recovery from shoulder surgery, and it was imperative the Bears addressed safety.
Sticking to the theme of versatility and athleticism, the Bears signed a prospect in Vereen, who has extensive experience as a cornerback. As a freshman at Minnesota, Vereen started four games at cornerback. Then as a sophomore, Vereen started all 12 games at cornerback, producing 67 tackles, seven pass breakups and a forced fumble.
Vereen transitioned to safety for his junior and senior seasons, but moved to corner for two starts in his final season. Vereen has also switched between strong safety (7 starts) and free safety (11 starts)
It’s unknown whether Vereen will seriously challenge for one of the club’s two starting jobs at safety, but he’ll certainly ramp up the competition there. Vereen posted gaudy numbers at the NFL Combine: 4.47-second 40-yard (second fastest among all safeties), 25 bench press repetitions of 225 pounds (tops among all safeties and corners). So in addition to the versatility and experience of playing every position in the secondary, Vereen possesses speed comparable to the game’s top corners with the strength reminiscent of a linebacker.
Athletic lineage: Chicago’s first-round pick, Kyle Fuller, has two brothers with NFL experience. So it’s interesting the Bears added another draft pick with NFL bloodlines. Vereen is the younger brother of New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen. The ties don’t stop there. Vereen’s mother, Venita, played tennis at UNLV, and his father, Henry, was a ninth-round selection in 1979 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
What’s next: Having filled most of their needs, the Bears might still look at bringing in a linebacker over the next three rounds.