Showcases natural cutback ability as well, exhibits good vision inside, recognizes the cutback lane quickly and is a sharp enough and sudden enough runner to consistently hit it. Exhibits a second gear to his game once he gets into the second level. Lacks elite straight-line speed, but plays fast, accelerates extremely well in the open field and will be able to outpace some angles in the NFL. Lacks ideal overall power to his game, struggles to consistently break tackles inside once a defender can get a hold of him, runs low but lacks the natural strength to routinely push the piles.
However, has a good feel in short-yard situations, is sudden/instinct at the line, displays great quickness to find a hole and slither his way through a crease. Isn't the most natural of blockers in blitz pick-up, keeps his head up and locates who he wants to hit, but gets a bit upright and isn't real patient. Gets caught lunging into defenders, loses his balance and needs development in that area. But, is a natural receiver out of the backfield, has a good feel in the screen game, plucks the football well away from his frame and squares his body quickly. Is also a threat out of the backfield, is a natural route runner you can split out in the slot, looks comfortable getting down the field and has the ability to create mismatches in the pass game in the NFL.
Impression: Is a shifty, sudden back with good vision and patience inside. Can create on his own, set up blocks inside and accelerates really quickly toward daylight. Lacks the kind of girth to carry the load at the next level, but can be a very good rotation back who can also add a dimension in the pass game as well."
Vereen, who combines shiftiness, pure speed and surprising power, isn't quite as big as scouts might prefer, but has never missed a game due to injury. In fact, he played in all 38 games at Cal, starting 19 times.
A standout runner, receiver and returner for the Golden Bears, Vereen leaves after his junior season already fifth in school history with 4,069 all-purpose yards. His ability to fill multiple roles could see him drafted as high as the second round. Anything later than the mid-third and Vereen could wind up as one of the true steals of the 2011 draft.
Positives: Has a short, compact build well suited to the running back position. Possesses very good lateral agility and balance to elude, but is a surprisingly efficient north/south runner who attacks the line of scrimmage. Good burst to and through the hole. Very good vision for cutback lanes as he gets to the second level. Elusive ballcarrier with an explosive burst to accelerate and gain yardage in chunks. More powerful than his frame would indicate. Runs low in short-yardage situations, lunging through the gaps to sneak through for first downs and at the goal-line. Keeps his legs churning, body spinning and shows good leg drive to run through tackles. Bounces off a lot tackles in this manner. Carries the tradition of Cal running backs who are stout pass blockers. Is willing to take on the hard-charging linebacker, showing good technique and power for a back of his size. Soft hands and very good body control as a receiver out of the backfield. Used on a variety of routes in this offense. Experienced and productive kick returner.
Negatives: Has a tendency to allow the ball to get away from his body as he attempts to elude at the second level, leading to fumbles. Doesn't wrap both hands around the ball consistently enough. Operated out of a spread scheme where his burst and speed were emphasized. May lack the bulk and strength to be an every-down back in the NFL."
Vareen's explosiveness will be welcome in the NFL.
Vereen was a four star recruit out of Valencia High School. He has been a heavy part of the Jeff Tedford offense for three years, having at least 140 carries each season.
Vereen’s athleticism and versatility has been huge for the Cal Bears. He is a thick running back who has the speed and quickness to make defenders miss in space. Vereen has good vision, and is generally a patient runner. He does an excellent job of planting off of his foot and cutting up field. He catches well out of the backfield and is utilized heavily in screen plays as well as draws. Vereen has experience returning kicks, often showing off his exceptional vision. He runs with a nice low center of gravity and can even line up as a slot receiver.
He tends to run around people, rather than through them. His speed is great, but it isn’t fast enough to run past NFL defenses. He doesn’t break many tackles, and needs to work on bulking up and getting through arm tackles. He isn’t going to be a workhorse at the next level, and will be best as a scat back/3rd down back if he can improve in pass protection.
Honestly, Vereen’s draft stock could rise just like Jahvid Best’s did in the 2010 NFL Draft. They are quite similar and teams covet versatile players, especially running backs. However, I see Vereen being draft no earlier than pick 60 and no later than pick 90. There isn’t a huge demand for running backs in the early rounds for 2011. Atlanta, San Diego, New England, Green Bay, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh look like great suitor’s for Vereen’s skillset.
NFL Comparison: Jahvid Best "
Positive: Multipurpose skill player with the athleticism and football ability to play at the next level. Patient ball carrier who does a solid job following blocks and runs hard on the inside. Displays good vision, instincts and is deceptively strong. Drives his shoulders into defenders, keeps his feet moving up the field, and runs low to the ground. Tough to knock off his feet, will pick and choose his spots on the inside, and uses his blocks well. Resilient, keeps plays alive, and shows the ability to beat defenders into the open field.
Negative: Not an elusive or truly creative ball carrier. Does not show great corner speed. Body catches as a receiver out of the backfield rather than making the reception away from his frame too often.
Analysis: Vereen has been a solid ball carrier the past two seasons while also flashing skills as a receiver out of the backfield. He has the ability to be a backup on a roster but can also see spot duty as a starter if necessary."
Negatives: Still rather small for an NFL back... Doesn't run over people, slips through holes and arm tackles but can be dragged down rather easily by larger defenders... Not a big play threat, only has two carries this season that have gone over 20 yards... Decent in pass protection, but is usually running routes on passing downs... Tore his quadriceps in high school, played 2009 with a torn meniscus... Likely slated to be a change-of-pace back in the NFL, will not be a workhorse."
Weaknesses: Vereen isn't the strongest runner out there. He won't break a lot of tackles between the tackles or push the pile. At the goal line, one would like to see him be more decisive as a runner. Needs to improve in pass protection, learning how to block in protection schemes and be more physical.
Projection: Second Round. A complete back with speed and athleticism that should be an every down back at the next level."
Heading into 2010 the question was how would Vereen perform without Best? Through eight games the answer is a good one. On 142 carries, Vereen has totaled 774 yards and ten touchdowns. He has also caught 16 passes for 172 yards and three more touchdowns. However, his impressive streak of 34 consecutive passes with a catch ended earlier this season.
If Vereen is not carrying the bulk of the rushing load (which he would not likely do in the NFL), he could also be a kick returner. He played that role for the Golden Bears in 2009 while he was splitting carries with Best and did quite well. Vereen will not be the fastest or strongest running back in this class if he opts to go pro early, but he is a well balanced back who brings a lot to the table. Right now he is likely a second or third round selection, but his balanced rushing style will be very appealing to some NFL teams."
Shane Vereen offers a really nice blend of Burst, Fluidity, Lateral Agility, and explosive Lateral Velocity. He commands exceptional Processing Speed + Vision, working with his Line to set up Blocks. He's not overpowering, but has enough strength that he's not a liability on inside Runs.
He's not a very good Blocker, yet, but is already a dangerous Receiver.
In my efforts to organize RB's by their styles, I've invented the terms "Smashers", "Slashers", and "Thrashers" as what I hope will be easy references, respectively, to Power Backs, 3rd Down Backs, and Hybrids. "Tail Back" and "Half Back" are used too interchangeably, and in any case, a 3rd term is needed, for there are 3 distinct types.
Shane Vereen seems to be equally adept both between and outside the Tackles, so I call him a Thrasher.
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