The New England Patriots decided to jump back into the RB market with Shane Vereen in the 2nd round (No. 56 overall) of the 2011 draft. The Patriots traditionally do not spend top picks on the running back position and have been burned before — Laurence Maroney anyone? More often than not though, Wild Bill Belichick is pretty accurate with his assessment of talent.
Vereen is a jack of all trades with great size at 5’10” and 210 pounds. He showed excellent strength at the Combine as well as decent speed with a 4.5 40-yard dash (but he has been timed in the 4.4s) to go along with an overall solid showing in most categories at the Combine. He is versatile and could see the field in his rookie year in a variety of positions. He accumulated over 4,000 all purpose yards at Cal as a RB, kick returner and occasional punt returner. He has good hands coming out of the backfield (74 catches in college) and hit for a 5.1 YPC on a fairly light load of 556 carries, amassing 35 touchdowns over his three years at college. This reads to me as a guy who can make plays, can find the end zone and has plenty left in his tank.
I have a love/hate take on his situation in New England. What I love about it is that I think he is the most talented back on their roster. He should win the starting job outright at some point as long as he can pick up the blitz, but having a solid blocking TE in Gronkowski should help keep him on the field if he takes some time to learn blitz protection. He currently has only BenJarvus Greeen-Ellis and Danny Woodhead to leapfrog; neither are in Vereen’s talent class. What is bothering me about his situation is that Wild Bill Belichick is unpredictable with his RBs. I could just be in fantasy land thinking that he would start his most talented back at some point. The thing that helps me past this is that Wild Bill did at least try and get Maroney, his last RB investment, to be the RB1 in New England; Maroney just couldn’t cut it as a feature back.
Vereen is currently going at 13.12 and is the RB60 off the board. This is exactly what I want in a 13th round pick — someone who could be that flex starter for you down the stretch in a redraft league or that brilliant keeper for years to come.
Michael Hawes is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. Nearly 20 years of FF, had to have learned something in that time. You can catch up with Michael in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of bungle613.
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