Patriots Rookie Projections: Shane Vereen

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)

The third in a series looking at the Patriots' 2011 NFL Draft picks, and the roles they might play for the Patriots next year.

Name: Shane Vereen

School: California

Position: Running Back

Drafted: 2nd Round, 56th Overall

Projected Stats: 16 GP, 3 GS; 82 carries, 386 yards, 1 TD; 24 receptions, 218 yards, 1 TD

Projected Role: I expect Patriots' second round pick Shane Vereen to get plenty of playing time as a rookie.  While the Patriots certainly have a lot of capable bodies in the backfield (Green-Ellis, Woodhead, Ridley), Vereen is more than just a receiving back.  He is underrated carrying the ball between the tackles, and I certainly think he could see some touches on first and second downs.  Vereen could end up being the top option as a 3rd down back, but I think he will split time there with Danny Woodhead similar to how Kevin Faulk and JR Redmond split time at that spot in 2001 and the beginning of 2002.  I also think Vereen will be very effective as a ball carrier, I predict him averaging 4.7 yards per carry.  However, I do not think that he will see a lot of touches near the goal line.

Bottom Line: 3rd down and rotational back in 2011, starting candidate in 2012

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