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Bears trade up for safety/cornerback Brock Vereen of Minnesota in fourth round of NFL draft
The Bears traded up for an additional fourth-round pick to select Minnesota safety Brock Vereen. They traded their fifth-round pick (No. 156) and a fifth-round pick in 2015 to the Denver Broncos for the fourth-round pick they used on Vereen (No. 131 overall) and a seventh-round pick (No. 246) in this year’s draft.
The 5-11 1/2, 199-pound Vereen, the brother of Patriots running back Shane Vereen, started six games at safety and the final seven games at cornerback as a senior — with 59 tackles (41 solo), one interception and six pass break-ups. He was an all-Big Ten Conference selection by the coaches and an honorable mention choice by the media. He was a full-time starter at cornerback as a sophomore in 2011 but was moved to safety as a junior in 2012.
“I feel comfortable at both [positions],” Vereen said. “I felt that I made plays at both and whichever one the Bears think that I need to play to help them out the most, I’d be more than happy to be there. They haven’t specified which spot, but I’m more than happy to do whatever it take to be on the field. I’m just coming in willing to be coached.”
Vereen not only has played cornerback and safety, but he also has played free and strong safety. “We didn’t necessarily have a standard free safety and strong safety [at Minnesota],” he said. “Week by week, depending on the team we were playing, I would be moved around quite a bit. I have experience as a free guy. I have experience down there in the box against people like Wisconsin and Iowa who like to run the ball. I feel pretty well-rounded at safety.”
Vereen ran a 4.47 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, the second fastest time for a safety. Additionally, Vereen has the intangibles and leadership qualities Bears general manager Phil Emery seems to covet more than most.
The scouting report on Vereen from Nolan Nawrocki’s “NFL Draft Preview”: “Intellgent, 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.”
Vereen was thrilled to be drafted by the Bears, calling it “a dream come true.” He said his mother, a former tennis player at UNLV, is from Decatur — the Bears’ original home as the Decatur Staleys in 1920. “All my family is Bears fans,” he said.
Minnesota coach Jerry Kill, the former Northern Illinois head coach, called Vereen “one of the smartest and most versatile players I have ever had the privilege of coaching. [He] is an outstanding young man. He is the ultimate team player and will do whatever is needed to help the Bears win. I know he is going to make Chicago a better team and will also be a great teammate in the locker room.”
Vereen said he has benefited from having an older brother playing at a higher level as he was growing up. His father, Henry, played for UNLV (1975-78) and was a ninth-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1979.
“I feel I’ve been able to watch football on an advanced level for a long time, because I’ve been able to see the game through [Shane's] eyes and my dad’s eyes as well,” Brock said. “I had a better understanding of the game than some people had in high school or even recently in college.”
He said he already is looking forward to playing against his brother, Shane, when the Bears play the Patriots in Week 8. “I’m very aware” of that matchup, he said. “I’m definitely counting down, too.”