New England Patriots: Revisiting and Grading the Draft: 2011

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Feb 1, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen (34) makes a one handed catch in Super Bowl XLIX against the Seattle Seahawks at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

2nd Round #56 overall: running back Shane Vereen

As hard as it is to believe with the outrage of Vereen leaving for the New York Giants as a free agent, Vereen was considered a bust after his first two years in New England. The running back from Cal was behind fellow 2011 draft pick Stevan Ridley and behind third-down running back Danny Woodhead on the depth chart. Vereen had just 308 yards rushing and 8 receptions combined in his first two seasons in New England.


Vereen turned it around in his last two seasons in New England. In 2013 a broken wrist slowed him as he played in just 8 games, but he rushed for over 200 yards and had 47 receptions in just eight games. In 2014 Vereen rushed for almost 400 yards and had over 50 receptions. Vereen played best on the big stage, however, as he was a key component of the offense in the postseason and was dynamic in the Super Bowl as he hauled in 11 passes including a vital one-handed grab.


By the end of the Super Bowl it was clear that Vereen was in position to make more money than Bill Belichick would ever pay a third down/receiving back. Vereen was solid in blitz pickup and a safety valve out of the backfield. He can split out and run routes like a wide receiver and has good vision on draw plays.


Jan 11, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray (29) fumbles the ball as he is hit by Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Julius Peppers (56) in the third quarter in the second half in the 2014 NFC Divisional playoff football game at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports


It could be argued that DeMarco Murray (#71 overall to Dallas), wide receiver Randall Cobb (#64 overall to Green Bay), or wide receiver Torrey Smith (#58 overall to Baltimore) would have given New England more value than Vereen. Of course, none of the three would have filled the third down back role that was so vital to the New England spread offense.


The best player taken in that area of the draft was outside linebacker Justin Houston who was taken at #70 overall by Kansas City. Houston is a three time Pro Bowler and led the NFL in sacks with 22 last season. In four years the third round draft pick has totalled 48.5 sacks and hit double-digit sacks every season other than his rookie year.



Vereen turned his Patriots career around in his last two seasons and showed why the Patriots took him in the second round. Vereen cashed in during a weak offseason for running backs by getting a four year deal from the Giants which will pay him over $12 million in the first three seasons. For a player who missed 22 games in his first three years it was an impressive haul. Vereen went to two Super Bowls and the AFC Championship game in all four years in New England. and played a key role in getting the ring this past February.


Next: 3rd Round