Steelers 2014 NFL Draft Player Profiles – Minnesota S Brock Vereen
Good friend Dave-Te’ Thomas of Scouting Services has finished his player profiles of several of the top 2014 NFL Draft prospects and over the course of the next few weeks I will be posting the ones that the Pittsburgh Steelers will more than likely have interest in. Being as Minnesota safetyk Brock Vereen was in for a pre draft visit recently, now is a good time to post his. Thomas has done these profiles for the NFL for several years and I know that many of you enjoy reading them.
University of Minnesota Gophers
Valencia High School
One of the more unheralded players in this draft, do not discount this very versatile Gopher as he embarks on a professional career. Especially with young players, having the ability to be plugged into the lineup in a variety of roles allows a position coach to develop his sub-packages. With Vereen, it is commonplace to see him shift from spot to spot throughout the course of a game.
In addition to excelling on the coverage units during his career, Vereen has been the consummate team player, vigorously taking on any task the coaches require from him. He began his Minnesota career playing left cornerback as a senior, assigned the task of taking on the opposition’s bigger targets. With his quickness and backpedal skills, he was shifted to the right side, handling flankers and slot receivers for the Gophers during his sophomore campaign.
Known for his solid wrap-up tackling technique, Vereen was again on the move during his junior season, filling in at both safety positions before taking over the strong-side chores for the second half of the 2013 regular season schedule. As a senior, the seconday’s version “of musical chairs” found Vereen lining up as the Gophers’ free safety, a position many experts feel that he found a home at as he embarks on making an impression at the next level of the football industry – the National Football League.
Vereen comes from a sports-oriented family, one that has seen his older brother, Shane, had considerable success as a ball carrier for California, where he ranks seventh in school history with 556 carries for 2,834 yards, scoring a total of 35 touchdowns before joining the New England Patriots in 2011. Their mother, Venita, was a member of the tennis team at Nevada-Las Vegas, where she met their father, Henry, who lettered as a receiver and tailback for the Rebels (1975-78) before being selected in the ninth round of the 1979 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
At Valencia High School, Vereen was a two-time All-CIF selection as a defensive back and wide receiver. The three-star recruit was rated the 66th-best cornerback in the nation by Rivals.com and listed 57th at that position by ESPN. As a junior, he recorded 64 tackles with six interceptions, averaging 30.2 yards as a kickoff returner.
In 2009, Vereen led his team to a 12-1 record, as he tallied 51 tackles, eight interceptions, two pass break-ups and one sack. On offense, the receiver registered 20 receptions for 474 yards and seven touchdowns. He also excelled as a standout track and field athlete.
Vereen played in nine games as a true freshman, forcing his way into the lineup for four games at left cornerback during his freshman campaign. He delivered ten tackles during his first year with the Gophers. He started all twelve games at right cornerback in 2011, ranking fifth on the team with 67 tackles (46 solos), intercepting one pass while batting down seven others while also blocking a kick.
Named an Academic All-Big Conference selection as a junior, Vereen shifted inside to safety. He would earn seven starting assignments at strong safety, including the Gophers’ final six games, finishing sixth on the squad with 64 tackles. He picked off two passes, deflected nine others, most coming late in the season, as he was still recovering from 2012 offseason knee surgery.
Vereen suffered another knee injury during 2013 fall camp, but was fully recovered by the season opener, going on to have a banner final season to earn All-Big Ten Conference first-team recognition. In thirteen starting assignments at free safety, he delivered 59 tackles (41 solos), picking off one pass and deflecting six others. That performance would earn the Gopher an invitation to play in the 2014 East-West Shrine Game.
That invitation followed another – an opportunity to show off his athleticism at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine, where it would be an understatement to say that he opened quite a few eyes with his excellent performance. In the weight room, he performed 25 repetitions in the 225-pound bench press, the best for any safety or cornerback at the 2014 event, along with ranking seventh for all safeties to attend a Combine in the last ten years.
In the speed drills, Vereen clocked 4.47 seconds in the 40-yard dash, the second fastest time for a safety in 2014 in Indianapolis. He then turned in a 4.07 run in the 20-yard shuttle, which also placed second among the 2014 Combine safeties, the same place where he finished in the three-cone drill (6.90 seconds).
Vereen’s versatility helped him earn a total of thirty-six starting assignments in the forty-seven games he appeared in – four at left cornerback; fourteen at right cornerback; seven at strong safety and eleven at free safety … Finished with 200 tackles (127 solos) that included an assisted sack and 7.5 stops for losses of 22 yards … Deflected 22 passes and gained 28 yards via four interception returns … Also blocked one kick.
The All-American Super Sleeper Team choice by The NFL Draft Report, also being named All-Big Ten Conference first-team by the league’s coaches and was an honorable mention by the media … Started all thirteen games, eleven at free safety and two at right cornerback, recording 59 tackles (41 solos), which rank fifth on the team … Made 2.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage and caused one fumble … Had one interception and deflected six other tosses … Led the team with eight tackles (six solos) vs. Nevada-Las Vegas … Added seven tackles at New Mexico State and broke up one pass and made four tackles vs. Western Illinois … Totaled three tackles vs. San Jose State and delivered eight tackles (6 solos), forced one fumble, broke up one pass and recorded one interception vs. Iowa … Assisted on two tackles at Michigan and lined up at right cornerback at Northwestern, where he had four solo tackles and broke up one pass … Recorded four solo tackles and broke up one pass as a starting cornerback vs. Nebraska … Deflected one pass and made six tackles at Indiana, adding four tackles vs. Penn State and three vs. Wisconsin … Was in on three more tackles at Michigan State.
Vereen earned second-team All-Big Ten Conference honors from The NFL Draft Report and was also an Academic All-Big Ten choice … Underwent offseason knee surgery and was limited vs. Iowa when he tweaked the knee … Shifted to safety, backing up both positions until earning seven starting assignments, including in each of the final six games at strong safety … Ranked sixth on the team with 64 tackles (33 solos) that included an assisted sack and 1.5 stops for minus 9 yards … Intercepted two passes for 28 yards in returns and deflected nine other throws … Saw action as a reserve at Nevada-Las Vegas and had four tackles, coming up with his second career interception … Added four tackles vs. New Hampshire and notched four tackles vs. Western Michigan … Had two tackles and one pass breakup vs. Syracuse, but saw limited action at Iowa due to an injury … Made his first start of the season and recorded seven tackles and a pass breakup vs. Northwestern, followed by three solo tackles at Wisconsin … Tied for the team lead in tackles with seven and broke up two passes vs. Purdue … Again tied for the team-high with nine tackles and also broke up one pass vs. Michigan … Had one solo tackle and assisted on one sack at Illinois … Made eight tackles, including one for a loss, and two pass breakups at Nebraska, posting four tackles as he had a 30-yard interception return vs. Michigan State … Led the team with 10 tackles vs. Texas Tech.
Vereen took over right cornerback duties, starting all twelve games, recording a career-high 67 tackles (46 solos) with 3.5 stops for losses totaling eight yards … Broke up seven passes and intercepted another … Also blocked one kick … Led the team with 13 tackles (10 solo) in the season opener at USC … Tallied an interception, three tackles and a pass break-up vs. New Mexico State … Recorded five tackles (three solos) and broke-up a team high three passes in a victory vs. Miami (Ohio) … Garnered six tackles vs. North Dakota State and was in on five solo tackles with one tackle-for-loss at Michigan … Tied for the team-best with seven tackles at Purdue and assisted on four tackles vs. Nebraska … Also notched five tackles in a 22-21 victory vs. Iowa and recorded six tackles and one pass break-up at Michigan State … Made five tackles vs. Wisconsin and tallied five tackles at Northwestern … Garnered three tackles with two pass break-ups in a victory vs. Illinois.
Vereen appeared in nine games as a true freshman, starting four contests at left corner-back, as he finished with ten tackles (7 solos) … Earned his first-career start vs. Southern California, making four tackles … Started vs. Northern Illinois and had four tackles … Also started at cornerback in Minnesota’s win vs. Iowa and contributed two tackles.
2012 Season … Underwent knee surgery in the off-season that prevented him from participating in spring drills … Also limited vs. Iowa when he tweaked the knee.
2013 Season … Suffered a minor knee sprain during August camp.
4.47 in the 40-yard dash … 1.58 10-yard dash … 2.63 20-yard dash … 4.07 20-yard shuttle … 6.90 three-cone drill … 34-inch vertical jump … 9’-9” broad jump … Bench pressed 225 pounds 25 times … 30-inch arm length … 7 ¾-inch right hand/8 ¼-inch left hands … 73 ¼-inch wingspan.
Vereen attended Valencia (Cal.) High School, playing football for head coach Larry Muir … Was a two-time All-CIF selection as a defensive back and wide receiver … The three-star recruit was rated the 66th-best cornerback in the nation by Rivals.com and listed 57th at that position by ESPN … As a junior, he recorded 64 tackles with six interceptions, averaging 30.2 yards as a kickoff returner … In 2009, Vereen led his team to a 12-1 record, as he tallied 51 tackles, eight interceptions, two pass break-ups and one sack … On offense, the receiver registered 20 receptions for 474 yards and seven touchdowns … Also excelled as a standout track and field athlete … Graduated with a 4.4 grade point average (5.0 top scale).
Vereen is a Communication Studies major … Son of Venita and Henry Vereen … His older brother, Shane, was a standout ball carrier for California, where he ranks seventh in school history with 556 carries for 2,834 yards, scoring a total of 35 touchdowns before joining the New England Patriots in 2011 as a second round draft choice … Their mother, Venita, was a member of the tennis team at Nevada-Las Vegas, where she met their father, Henry, who lettered as a receiver and tailback for the Rebels (1975-78) before being selected in the ninth round of the 1979 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers … Born 8/1792 … Resides in Valencia, California.