FOXBORO, Mass. — The Patriots continued to reshape their offensive backfield by selecting Cal running back Shane Vereen with the 56th pick in the draft.
The 5-foot-10, 204-pounder rushed for 1,167 yards and 13 touchdowns during his junior season in 2010. He had 2,834 yards and 29 touchdowns in three seasons. He also caught 74 passes for 674 yards and six touchdowns during his career.
Vereen is an elusive runner with good speed, and he'll be an asset in the passing game. He's drawing comparisons to Kevin Faulk because he can be most dangerous in space. Vereen probably won't be an every-down back, but the Patriots needed to find depth who can add a different element to BenJarvus Green-Ellis' downhill game.
Green-Ellis will be the Patriots' traditional starter, and Vereen will join Danny Woodhead as a change of pace in the backfield. Vereen also adds some insurance in case Kevin Faulk doesn't return.
The Patriots have gotten incrementally younger at the running back position over the last year, and this has been a big transition period for them. Fred Taylor is likely out, and the future is uncertain for Faulk and Sammy Morris. Meanwhile, Green-Ellis went from being a fifth-stringer to a 1,000-yard runner, and Woodhead was a surprising complement who gave the team a big boost as an early-season addition. With Vereen in the fold, the Patriots have three young backs to lead the ground game.
"We learned so much from each other. I think that was the biggest thing for us. I think we're very similar. He's maybe two steps faster than I am, but our game is very similar. I don't see many things that are different about the way that we play."
–Vereen on similarities between him and former Cal running back Jahvid Best.