(CBS) — The Chicago Bears traded back into the fourth round to select safety Brock Vereen on Saturday afternoon.
With safety widely considered their most pressing need heading into the draft, the Bears traded fifth-round selections in both this draft (156th overall) and 2015 to the Denver Broncos, acquiring their fourth-round (131st overall) and seventh-round (246th overall) selections.
A Minnesota product, Vereen was a versatile player in college, lining up at outside corner, slot corner, safety and at gunner on special teams. He exclusively played cornerback as a sophomore, then switched to safety as a junior, and injuries in the secondary forced him to split time at both positions in 2013. Versatility is one of Bears general manager Phil Emery’s favorite traits about draft prospects, and Vereen certainly fits that mold.
Vision is an important aspect of secondary play, so being able to see the field both from a cornerback’s point of view (half-field reads) and safety (full-field reads) is a boon for Vereen.
Emery also puts a big emphasis on a prospect’s athletic grade, and Vereen showed very well at the combine. His 25 repetitions on the bench press was the highest total for all defensive backs, and his 4.47 second 40-yard dash, 6.9 three-cone drill, and 4.07 second shuttle were the second fastest times for safety prospects.
Statistically, Vereen finished with 22 passes broken up, six tackles for loss and four interceptions.
Considering how many games Vereen started, four interceptions is a low total. However, on a Chicago team whose current projected starter — Chris Conte — is recovering from shoulder surgery and a 2013 season that shook his confidence, Vereen immediately becomes the most viable option to challenge for a starting spot.
Vereen has NFL bloodlines, as his father was drafted by the Tampa Bay Bucs and his older brother Shane is a running back for the New England Patriots.
The Bears’ next selection is in the sixth round at No. 183 overall.
Follow Dan on Twitter: @djdurkin.