Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Scouting The 2014 NFL Draft: Chicago Bears Selection Brock Vereen

Moving along with my scouting reports on the Bears draft picks, we now make it to the one guy that the Bears deemed good enough to trade up and get. Before we get to him, here is a list of the previous reports:

Round One - Kyle Fuller - CB - Virginia Tech
Round Two - Ego Ferguson - DT - LSU

Round Three - Will Sutton - DT - Arizona State

Round Four - Ka'Deem Carey - Arizona

The Bears traded their fifth round pick this year and another fifth round pick next year in order to move up to select Minnesota Safety, Brock Vereen. Although I would have loved for them to have used that extra pick to go up and get Timmy Jernigan (I'm not bitter; I'm just sad), but safety was a definite need for them, so it made sense to go up and get a guy that they clearly liked. I broke down his game against my alma mater, the Iowa Hawkeyes to see what Vereen brings to the table.

The first good sign that I saw for Vereen is when teams went to spread formations, he was the most likely safety to come up and take man coverage on a wide receiver. Unfortunately, he wasn't real great in man coverage. I feel more comfortable with him giving up size to a tight end as his technique leaves a little to be desired so wide receivers can beat him bad if he is forced to match up in man coverage, but he has speed to recover against a tight end. Here is an example of Kevonte Martin-Manley, who as much as I love is probably an undrafted free agent at best next year, burning Vereen on back-to-back plays.

The first play, KMM jukes to the outside and crosses in, leaving Vereen in his dust in the process. The second play is more of the same, although it could have been much more costly. The last replay of the second play is the most important. KMM jukes his head to the outside, and it is enough to get Vereen to turn his hips and even take a step backwards with his right foot. At that point, he's toast, and a slightly better pass probably leads to a touchdown.

I would describe his work in the run game as hesitant. He seems to shuffle his feet a lot and jump into piles as opposed to coming in like a missile trying to take a running back head on. I know that isn't exciting, but considering he is likely to be a free safety, this is not that big of an issue.

One positive that I saw was his acceleration. He gets up to top speed very quickly and seems to have good speed to go along with it. When he isn't burned badly in coverage, he has makeup speed that can get him out of some bad spots.

The one thing that I rarely got to see were his abilities to play in a zone and make a break on a pass. Luckily, the one time he did get a chance, he made the most of it.

Neither angle is ideal on telling whether the quarterback made a really poor read or if Vereen just made a very good play, but the end result of an interception is certainly nice.

Overall, Vereen displays the tools to be a good safety. He has shown that he can read a pass and make a good break and create a big play. He has very good acceleration and speed which helps him as he does make false steps. The false steps and his hesitancy in the run game are both concerns, with the former being far more important than the latter, although fans may get just as frustrated with both. Watching one game, I saw flashes of a good safety and flashes of things I have seen too much of from Bears safeties in the last few years. The Bears watched enough to trade up in the draft for him, so I am going to hope that he makes less false steps than Chris Conte. If he can do that, he can use his athleticism to make a difference in the middle of the field, and the Bears will add a vital piece to their secondary.

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