After being drafted in the fourth round with the No. 131 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft, Brock Vereen will now have the opportunity to compete for a starting free safety spot with the Chicago Bears.
Michael C. Wright of ESPN.com recently did a mailbag column for the site where he answered Twitter questions from readers about the Bears. As it pertains to Vereen, Wright believes the competition he’ll face from more experienced players will keep him from being a starter right away:
Well, he’ll have to beat out M.D. Jennings and Chris Conte, two players who have extensive experience as starters in the NFL. Could that happen? Yes. But I think it’s more likely that one of the veterans will emerge from training camp as the starting free safety. People keep asking how Vereen is doing in OTAs, and I keep telling them I really don’t know. First off, he’s a rookie. So he doesn’t yet know what he’s doing in terms of having a full grasp of the scheme. Second, it’s a different ballgame once the guys put the pads on.
The situation with Vereen reminds Wright of Josh Gattis, a former pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2007 who eventually wound up with the Bears.
I remember back in 2007 when the Jacksonville Jaguars drafted Josh Gattis in the fifth round out of Wake Forest. During the offseason, Gattis certainly looked the part; big, strong, and fast.He looked so good the Jaguars decided to release Donovin Darius, who had been a dependable player for them for several years. So, then training camp rolls around, the pads go on and Gattis disappears. Some of the coaches at the time said he was “soft,” and throughout that preseason, Gattis made just nine tackles with six of them coming in the preseason finale; a game in which he started. Gattis eventually wound up with the Chicago Bears and washed out of the league.I’m not saying Vereen is the same guy as Gattis. I’m just cautioning against crowning a guy too early because the game changes substantially once contact is involved.
Vereen, the brother of New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen, started all 13 games at safety as a senior at the University of Minnesota. He recorded 59 tackles, one interception and one forced fumble with six pass break-ups.