As we continue our examination of the Patriots 2011 selections, we come to pick number 56, which the Pats received from the New Orleans Saints for the 28th pick. With so much concern about the state of their backfield, Bill Belichick and his braintrust finally pulled the trigger, selecting RB Shane Vereen out of Cal.
Vereen is not the big, bruising back like a Mark Ingram. He is listed at 5-9 and 203 lbs. He certainly does not have the name recognition of many of the other backs coming out of college this season. But this guy is a perfect fit for what New England likes to do on offense. He is versatile. He is productive. He is elusive. He finished fifth in school history in rushing yards with 2,834 and second in rushing touchdowns with 29. Simply put, when Vereen touches the ball, he finds paydirt.
Vereen can make things happen when the ball is slammed into his gut and he can make things happen as a receiver as well. Many are comparing Vereen with his former Cal teammate, Jahvid Best, minus the blazing speed. If Vereen can match the impact and production of Best, the Pats have a steal here.
Most see Vereen playing on third down, where he is a dangerous dual threat. I cannot help but wonder if Belichick looks at Vereen and sees a younger version of Kevin Faulk. Faulk has been an integral part of the success the Patriots have had over the past decade. But he has been there for over a decade. Faulk cannot play forever.
And knowing that the Pats like to play a backfield by committee, with each back there for a specific situation and filling a specific role, Vereen should fit right in. Vereen could even see some action as a return man on special teams. Vereen is yet another example of the Patriots knowing their system, knowing what they want in a player, and then going out and getting that player.
Vereen was not drafted to be an every down back. And he won’t be. This approach and the addition of Vereen makes the offense more diverse, harder to gameplan, younger, and less concerned about injury. I know this pick is not as sensational as adding Mark Ingram, but Vereen is a perfect pick for the Patriot offense. He will produce and he will make the team better. Another good pick by the Patriots and excellent value for the 56th spot.