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Bears trade up to take Vereen

The Bears on Saturday bolstered their secondary by trading up into the middle of the fourth round with the Broncos to draft Minnesota safety Brock Vereen at No. 131.

The Bears acquired the 131st selection along with Denver's seventh-round choice (No. 246) in exchange for two fifth-round picks—this year (No. 156) and next year.   

In four seasons at Minnesota, Vereen appeared in 47 games with 36 starts at all four secondary positions: left cornerback (4), right cornerback (14), strong safety (7) and free safety (11).  

See select photos of S Brock Vereen, the Bears' second fourth-round pick (131 overall) in the 2014 NFL Draft.

The Bears intend to play the 6-foot, 199-pounder strictly at safety.

"Brock is physical," said general manager Phil Emery. "He's a tough guy. He's a good athlete. He has good instincts for the game. What we really liked about him in terms of the person was the fact that he has been a captain, that he's a true leader.

"His knowledge of the game because of the multiple positions he has played will only help carry over in terms of handling all the complexities of the offensive schemes that he's going to face in the NFL.

"We're going to keep him at one position. Obviously your safeties have to have versatility in terms of dropping down into the box, into coverage and covering different types of athletes. But in terms of where he's going to line up is safety, and we feel like the fact that he's going to be able to concentrate on one area is going to help accelerate his improvement as a football player."

Vereen arrived at Minnesota as a cornerback, appearing in nine games with four starts as a true freshman in 2010 and starting all 12 games as a sophomore in 2011.

Switched to safety in 2012, Vereen started seven of the final eight games, recording 64 tackles, nine pass breakups and two interceptions. He started all 13 contests in 2013—the first six at safety and the final seven at cornerback—and registered 59 tackles, six tackles-for-loss and one pick.

The Bears sent assistant coach and former safety Chris Harris to meet with Vereen before the draft.

"Coach Harris came out to my high school and we went over film, got on the white board and everything," Vereen said. "It was a very positive meeting and I guess he felt the same way."

Vereen's father, Henry, was drafted by the Buccaneers and played in the Canadian Football League, while his older brother, Shane, is a fourth-year running back with the Patriots. The Bears are scheduled to play in New England on Sunday, Oct. 26.

Vereen feels that he has benefitted from having an older brother in the NFL.

"When I was in high school, he was already in college. When I was in college, he was in the NFL already," Vereen said. "So I always felt like I was able to get ahead coming in. Nothing ever felt new and I think I'll be able to do that in this case as well.

"I feel like I've been able to watch football on an advanced level for a long time because I've been able to see the game through his eyes and through my dad's eyes as well and have a veteran understanding of the game that some people had in high school and college."

In his 2014 NFL Draft Preview, Nolan Nawrocki describes Vereen as an "intelligent, athletic, rangy free safety with desirable strength and cover skills to go along with football bloodlines."

Nawrocki also states that Vereen "needs to improve against the run but is instinctive and brings terrific intangibles that could propel him into a role as a starter and defensive leader."

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