2011 NFL Draft Results: Patriots Pick California RB Shane Vereen at 56

Erik Frenz@ErikFrenzSenior Writer IApril 29, 2011

BERKELEY, CA - OCTOBER 09:  Shane Vereen #34 of the California Golden Bears runs against the UCLA Bruins in the first half at California Memorial Stadium on October 9, 2010 in Berkeley, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

When the New England Patriots traded the 28th pick to the New Orleans Saints, they were able to acquire a first-round pick in the 2012 NFL draft and the 56th pick this year.

They used that choice on California running back Shane Vereen.

Vereen has the classic Bill Belichick trait: Versatility. He is small, but he was a three-down back at California for the Bears.

The 5'9", 204-pounder will add to a stable of backs that already features undrafted talents Danny Woodhead and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. The trio should be one of the more formidable groups in the league in 2011.

His character is immaculate. He was a team captain at California. The Patriots targeted five team captains last year, and it's clear they feel it's a statement of character to be selected by the team as their captain.

The Patriots know that a good stable of backs includes at least four competent bodies. With the likelihood of injuries to running backs, there's no reason to have less than that. They get one step closer to that number with the pick of Vereen.

His biggest contributions will likely be on passing downs. He is an experienced and natural pass-catcher, and is comfortable splitting out wide and running routes as well. He exhibits solid awareness in pass protection, even if he is sometimes swallowed by larger defenders.

The Patriots will love what they will eventually get out of him on third downs, as he is a quick back with a great second gear. When he gets to the outside, he's dangerous to take it for a distance.