It’s no secret that the Green Bay Packers need to come away from the 2014 NFL Draft with a player or two at the safety position. It has been a position of need since the 2011 season when Nick Collins was lost to a career ending injury.
Yet, since that time, the Packers have spent just one draft pick on a true safety, as they drafted Jerron McMillian in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
Green Bay did select Micah Hyde, a cornerback from Iowa in the fifth round of the 2014 draft and after an impressive rookie season, there is talk of moving Hyde to safety, at least situationally in order to get him on the field more often.
However, that sounds more like a backup plan than a preferred option to me and even if Hyde does move to safety, there are still depth concerns that absolutely need to be addressed at some-point in the three-day NFL draft extravaganza.
Unfortunately, for the Packers this year’s draft has only a few quality safeties, five to be exact that are currently being projected to get selected in the first two rounds of the draft. Ha Ha Clinton Dix, Calvin Pryor, Jimmie Ward, Deonne Bucannon and Terrence Brooks are generally considered the top-five prospects at safety.
Green Bay should be able to land one of those players with its 21st pick in the first round or the 53rd pick in the second round, yet with only a few really good players at the position, its always possible the Packers will miss out.
The question is if they do miss out on a safety in the first two rounds, where will they turn? The answer could potentially be Minnesota’s Brock Vereen, who is projected to go in rounds 3 or 4 and could be a perfect fallback option for the Packers.
Vereen is an intriguing prospect, who spent time in his college career at both cornerback and safety. He possess ideal size for a safety at 6-0, 202 pounds and also runs very well, posting a 4.47 in the forty-yard-dash.
In 2011, Vereen started 12 games at corner for the University of Minnesota, notching a total of 67 tackles, (3.5 for loss) one interception and eight passes defensed.
Then Vereen was moved to safety before the 2012 season and after an injury in spring practice set him back, he began the season as a backup before starting seven of the last eight games. He finished the year with 64 tackles (1.5 for loss) a half sack, one interception and 10 passes defensed.
As a senior, Vereen was a 13-game starter, starting six games at safety and seven at corner. He had another solid year statistically, posting 59 tackles (2.5 for loss), one interception, one forced fumble and six passes defensed.
The former Golden Gopher is not a sure-fire prospect by any means and still needs to improve on his physical toughness and tackling if he’s going to excel at the NFL level.
Yet, Vereen is a very good athlete with proven cover skills, who shows very good range as a free safety. He does struggle making interceptions and will need to improve his playmaking ability if he’s ever going to become anything more than an average starter but you can’t coach speed and athleticism and this kid has both.
Vereen certainly isn’t the Packers first choice at the safety position but if rounds one and two pass with Green Bay unable to land the safety it wants, the former three-year starter in the Big Ten could be a perfect fit near the end of round 3.