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Patriots Draft California RB Shane Vereen With 56th Pick, Trade 60th Pick

The Patriots selected California RB Shane Vereen with pick 56. (Photo on Browns Central)

With their second 2nd round pick, the Patriots added a running back to their rotation, just not the back many thought.

New England added California running back Shane Vereen, who ESPN has already dubbed the next Kevin Faulk. Vereen rushed for 1,167 yards last season as he finally was the No. 1 back upon the departure of Jahvid Best. Vereen was the strongest back at the combine, with 31 reps at 225-pounds.

Vereen joins a backfield that featured the duo of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead. The Patriots passed over Illinois back Mikel Leshoure to draft Vereen, who was considered a third or fourth round prospect by many.

Per FF Toolbox:

If Shane Vereen is not being overshadowed by another running back on his own team, he is being overshadowed by more dynamic rushers up the coast in the Pac-10. In 2008 and 2009, Vereen was primarily a backup to eventual first round draft pick Jahvid Best. As a freshman, Vereen still received 142 carries and he made the most of those opportunities. He also proved to be a very capable pass catcher out of the backfield from day one. In 2009, due to an injury to Best, Vereen led the team with 952 yards on 183 carries and continued to catch a couple passes per game out of the backfield and ended up with 14 total touchdowns on the 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.

The Patriots then traded No. 60 to the Houston Texans (Brandon Harris, CB, Miami) for a 2010 third rounder (73) and 2010 fifth rounder (128).

About Matthew Marcantonio - @M_Marcantonio

Matthew Marcantonio is the Patriots and college football editor at Sports of Boston. Marcantonio has contributed for two newspapers; the Sentinel & Enterprise (Leominster, Mass) and The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La) and held internships with The Bleacher Report and Sports Illustrated.

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