After addressing needs at cornerback, defensive tackle and running back with the Chicago Bears' first four picks, Phil Emery finally addressed the safety position after trading back into the fourth round to select Minnesota's Brock Vereen.
In addition to acquiring Denver's fourth-round pick to draft Vereen, they also acquired an additional seventh-round pick from the Broncos (No. 246 overall) in exchange for their fifth-round pick this year (No. 156) and a fifth-round pick in 2015.
Vereen's versatility and experience fit the Bears' desire to find players who are versatile in the secondary.
In 36 career starts at Minnesota, Vereen started four games at left cornerback, 14 at right cornerback, seven at strong safety and 11 at free safety.
Along with his great speed, he also possesses terrific vision and can fight through traffic. Despite being one of the fastest safeties in this draft, he needs to improve on his anticipation as he tends to react slowly on passes thrown in his direction.
He comes from NFL bloodlines: His father Henry was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1979, and his brother Shane is currently a member of the New England Patriots. The two brothers will square off against each other for the first time this season.
The Bears' main focus this offseason was to improve their defensive line, and they did so by spending big money on free agents Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston and Willie Young. Because of the focus and money spent on improving the defensive line, the team took a more frugal approach to the safety position, signing Ryan Mundy, M.D. Jennings and Danny McCray in free agency.
The starting safety duo of Chris Conte and Major Wright struggled mightily in 2013. While a lot of their struggles were a product of their own doing, some of their struggles stemmed from the poor play in front of them.
Most will tell you that in order to have a good secondary, particularly the safety positions, it all starts up front. The addition of the pass-rushers mentioned above, along with drafting Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton earlier in this draft, should help alleviate some of the pressure that will be put on the safety position in 2014.
At this point, it appears that both safety positions will be up for grabs in 2014, and Vereen has as good a shot as anyone to be one of the team's starters come Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills.
Vereen's versatility will allow him to be a fit at either the strong or free safety spot in 2014, but because of his speed, athleticism and range, he will likely be competing to be the starter at free safety. If he cannot win the free safety spot out of training camp, his competitiveness and strong work ethic should allow him to be a solid special teams contributor in his rookie season.
Matt Eurich is an NFL/Chicago Bears Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!