Great news! Shane Vereen was drafted by the New England Patriots! This should be great for the Patriots! Terrible for all righteous haters of the Patriots! So conflicted. If I can learn to love the Packers because of Aaron Rodgers, then maybe I'll thaw on the Patriots. I mean they haven't won a Superbowl in, what, 8 years now? They've only been able to enjoy a baseball, basketball, (and potentially hockey) championship in that city since then? So long-suffering!
Oh well. Whether you love the Pats or you hate them, you probably want to know more about Vereen's role with the Patriots. We do, too! So, we went to talk with SBNation's Patriots experts, Pats Pulpit. These guys have their eye to the cold, New England ground and can help us better understand what to expect from the Vereen/Patriots marriage. They can answer the important questions about Shane Vereen's future in the cursed silver and blue. Many thanks to the kind folks at Pats Pulpit for answering our questions. They are the go-to Patriots source. Hope you enjoy their answers. GO BEARS!
1. What was your initial reaction when you heard that the Patriots picked Shane Vereen?
I was happy with the selection of Vereen. He provides a solid balance of power, explosion, and speed, as well as versatility in the running, passing, and blocking game. I know a lot of people were confused why the Patriots didn't draft a defensive player, but Vereen is a player who can make an immediate impact.
2. How do you see the Patriots utilizing Vereen?
Vereen should be used on third downs from Week 1 as both a blocker and an outlet threat. Last season, the Patriots RBs were extremely outmatched in the blocking game as BenJarvus Green-Ellis (BJGE) struggled to block and Danny Woodhead was just too small. Vereen should step on the field with a role, but could also challenge for some starting time.
3. How likely is it that Vereen will see time starting for the Patriots?
More likely than people think. BJGE had a solid season and is an extremely consistent player, but he's not a threat like Vereen. Vereen is a larger-sized Woodhead and could be the player who fills the Kevin Faulk role. Vereen could see around 30%-40% of the snaps and I wouldn't be surprised.
4. Over his 3 year career at Cal, Vereen caught 74 passes for 674 yards. This is an average of about 9.1 yards per reception. Do you see the Patriots taking advantage of his pass catching abilities at the NFL level?
Absolutely. The Patriots love using their running backs in the passing game (Faulk, Woodhead), and the fact that Vereen possesses the size to be a "between-the-tackles" back increases his utility. He should see plenty of third down opportunities.
5. Who is more attractive? Tom Brady or Shane Vereen?
6. What do you like most about this pick?
Vereen meets a need as the Patriots technically have one solid player on their running back depth chart (Woodhead), and the others are free agents. Vereen is versatile and could emerge as a great all-around back for the Patriots. While he may not be an Adrian Peterson, he has the potential to be an impact player. Also, the Patriots picked Vereen with the 56th overall pick, which means that they traded the 28th overall pick for Vereen and a 2012 first. That's some serious value.
7. How much had you seen Shane Vereen play before the draft? Was he on your radar as somebody the Patriots were targeting?
I watched Vereen a fair bit and I thought he was being undervalued (but I also though Jordan Todman was undervalued and he went in the 6th round). He was on my radar as a 3rd round pick, alongside DeMarco Murray, since the Patriots were looking for a player to replace Kevin Faulk in the long term, and both Vereen and Murray are solid pass blockers, who can catch the ball, and who both possess great speed. Vereen has the cleaner bill of health so I'm fine with the pick.
8. What did the Patriots need to address in the draft and how did drafting Shane Vereen relate to those needs?
The Patriots absolutely needed a running back since BJGE, Faulk, Fred Taylor, and Sammy Morris were all free agents. Only Danny Woodhead remained on the roster (apart from journeyman Thomas Clayton), and he does not possess full-time RB size. Vereen fits the bill perfectly as both an explosive replacement for Faulk, as well as another piece to the RB Committee puzzle.
9. What grade would you give the Patriots for drafting Shane Vereen in the 2nd round?
I'd give the Patriots an A- for the pick. I feel like Vereen may have stayed on the board for the rest of the round and hecould have been selected later (with his 3rd round grade), but I feel like he's a perfect fit in New England. The A- is for missed value at #56, although the 28th -> 2012 1st + 56th presents solid value in the long term. Isolating the pick at #56, I have to give it an A-.
10. Can you project the Patriots upcoming season with Shane Vereen at RB?
I see Vereen taking 30% of the snaps, with a lot of blocking, posting 65 attempts, 300 yards, 2 TDs, as well as 20 receptions for 200 yards and 2 TDs.