Very quick runner with good explosiveness. Has good vision, finding cutback lanes. Has the quick feet and lateral burst to set up defenders. Rarely takes the big shot and makes guy miss in space. Is able to slip a lot of tackles because it's hard to get a square hit on him. Can bounce things outside and shows ability to avoid the hit from the penetrating defender in the backfield. Has nice hands on the screen pass and potential there. Sometimes lines up on the outside in the slot. Willing in pass protection, able to square up against a bigger linebacker.
Undersized and lacks power. Doesn't have track speed to be a homerun threat to run by defenders. Dances a bit too much in the backfield and can hesitate to hit the hole because he's waiting for his blocks to set up and holes to develop. May not be disciplined enough runner to follow a lead blocker and fullback. Dances a bit too much after the catch looking for daylight. Is undersized in pass protection, and more effective chipping than taking on pass rushers head on.
Vereen emerged a year ago with the injury to Jahvid Best. He and Best are similar runners, although Vereen doesn't have quite the explosive speed that Best has, but he more than makes up for a lack of track speed with very good quickness and vision. He'll fit very well as a third down back, and in the right style of offense can be a lead back. If you total the 16 games he played since Best got hurt a year ago when he was the man, he totaled 339 carries for 1733 yards (5.1 avg) and 19 touchdowns, along with 30 receptions and 3 receiving touchdowns. In the season and a half as a reserve to Best prior to that, he combined for 250 carries for 1101 yards (4.4 avg) and 10 touchdowns with 44 receptions and 3 receiving scores. As a sophomore, he also returned 24 kickoffs for an average of 23 yards per return.
Vereen is a very good fit as a third down back at the next level, but his vision and quickness means that in the right style of offense he can be a productive lead rusher. He doesn't have the size or durability potential to be a 20-carry back over the course of a 16-game season. But he can definitely be a guy that can get 15 or so carries per game, and be a factor in the passing game. He probably projects best in a more spread attack that will use him in a lot of single back sets like those in Indianapolis or New England. He has the potential to be a guy if used properly can catch 50+ receptions per year. At the very least, in most offenses he can be a nice change of pace runner and third down back that can shine in 8-12 carries per game and splitting reps with a guy that will get the work in the redzone and short-yardage situations. He offers LeSean McCoy-like skillset at the next level, although he's not as fast and explosive as McCoy and is a much more polished and disciplined rusher than McCoy was coming out of Pitt a few years back, so he should impact much quicker than McCoy who was inconsitent as a rookie.
Vereen has the potential to be a good reserve in Atlanta. He is not a pure burner, but adds an explosive element to the Falcons ground attack that is much needed. While not as polished in pass protection as Snelling is, he does offer the ability and potential that by year's end he should be capable in that role. Meaning by the end of this year, he might be the team's No. 2 runner and primary third down back because of his explosive potential behind the physical Turner. As far as his long-term future in Atlanta, he's never going to be a lead back in a Mularkey-based offense, but with more time and development he can get more carries as a rusher and be used similarly to how Ahmad Bradshaw is in New York, splitting carries with a power rusher like Jacobs. But he'll have to get used to running behind a fullback. But his visiion and quickness means that he can get there, but it may take him the better part of a year or two before he starts to really get comfortable there. If the Falcons offense becomes more of a pass-oriented offense, he has a chance to shine as a situational and complementary back in the offense, but may never offer the durability and ability to carry the load on a Falcons offense that is still oriented to a more physical rushing attack down the road.
Vereen is a solid second round pick because of his ability to contribute as an impact player on third downs as well as being a good lead back option in the right kind of offense.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
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