The safety position was a major concern for the Chicago Bears coming into this offseason. Last year’s safety tandem of Major Wright and Chris Conte was the worst in the NFL. The organization immediately got on the case of repairing the back end of Chicago’s defense when the free agent market opened, and signed Ryan Mundy, M.D. Jennings and Danny McCray. The Bears also re-signed Craig Steltz, while cutting ties with Wright.
However, the Bears didn’t stop there. In the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Chicago selected Brock Vereen out of Minnesota, giving the secondary a vast amount of depth at the safety position. Nothing is really etched in stone as far as who will be the Bears’ two starting safeties for 2014, so it appears that the chance of seeing the rookie in the starting lineup is better than some may think.
In the event that Vereen does earn a starting spot in training camp, it will more than likely be at free safety. The prime candidate for strong safety will probably be Mundy. This means that Vereen’s main competition this summer will be Jennings and Conte. McCray and Steltz shouldn’t be a factor since both are projected to be contributors on special teams.
Jennings and Conte do have an advantage over Vereen with their experience of being starters in the league. But Vereen may have a slightly better chance of beating out Conte, who will be entering camp after recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. Jennings may not strike fear into the heart of Vereen either, considering that Jennings was ranked as the 67th-best safety in the NFL in 2013, according to Pro Football Focus.
What works in Vereen’s favor the most is his versatility in the secondary. While playing for the Golden Gophers, the 2013 First Team All-Big 10 selection manned every position in the defensive backfield at some point, giving him a broad understanding of how everything works on the last line of defense.
In addition, with the combination of his stout size (5-foot-11, 199 pounds), strength and speed, Vereen may find himself in the starting lineup at some point in time, and can very well be considered one of the steals of this year’s draft.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller.