For Vereen, work ethic trumps size

Bears rookie safety Brock Vereen, selected out of Minnesota in the fourth round of this year's draft, says he's worked hard off the field to make up for his less-than-ideal size.

At 5-11, 199, Chicago Bears safety Brock Vereen might be viewed as slightly undersized for an NFL secondary player, but in his view, it's all about timing.

"I know I don't measure up as large as some of the guys playing in the secondary in the NFL," Vereen said today after being selected in the fourth round, "so to compensate for that I've always studied timing, both my own and that of the guys I'd be going up against. In my view, timing is everything. I spend hours on film study seeing what other guys I'll be facing do when they are going for the ball. It helps me play big although my actual physical size might be smaller."

His older brother, Shane, is currently a running back for the New England Patriots, while his father, Henry, was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the ninth round of the 1979 draft. Brock feels his family pedigree gives him an edge over others playing at his level.

"I've had an insider's perspective for years," Vereen said. "I've always listened carefully to whatever my brother and father have said about playing football. I've felt that knowledge, that experience, has given me a distinct advantage in grade school, high school, and now college ball. I've learned from their experiences so not much has been a surprise to me. That's a good way to be heading into this new experience in the NFL."

Draft pundits have mentioned Vereen's intelligence, work ethic and speed, while also citing his impressive stats at the recent NFL Scouting Combine. He performed 25 repetitions on the 225 lb bench press, the best for any corner or safety at the 2014 event.

"I worked hard for those results," Vereen sasid. "The University of Minnesota has a well-established weight lifting program that I participated in constantly. That gave me good numbers when that part of the combine came up. Lets face it, I have short legs, short arms. I have to maximize what I am best at and go with those skills. So far the results have been good from that approach."

In Vereen's final season, he earned All-Big Ten recognition. He had 13 starts at free safety and delivered 59 tackles, picked off one pass and deflected six others. Vereen played at both corner and safety in 2013, switching to corner after the first six weeks.

"My defensive backs coach asked if I would feel comfortable making that position change," Vereen said. "I said ‘sure' and it all worked out pretty well from there. It was really kind of simple to make the switch. In either position I was facing some pretty big Big Ten guys."

Vereen is counting the days until the Bears face the Patriots in 2014.

"I called Shane and kidded him about that right after I was picked by Chicago," Vereen said. "It might cause some friendly competition within our family, but that's nothing we haven't experienced before."

Beth Gorr has been covering the Bears for the last 12 years and is the author of Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry. She is currently working on a second book about early Bears history.

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