LAKE FOREST, Ill. – The Chicago Bears needed a viable safety candidate after drafting Arizona running back K’Deem Carey in the fourth round Saturday, so general manager Phil Emery did something he says he’s reluctant to do: He made a deal.
The Bears traded their fifth-round picks this year and in 2015 for Denver’s fourth rounder and a seventh-rounder, and came away with safety Brock Vereen of Minnesota. The deal highlighted a final day in which the Bears turned their attention to offense and special teams, with the exception of Vereen.
“We started the day saying, `Let’s get a running back in this round or a safety,’ and whatever one we don’t get, let’s get back into this round because we’re not going to get that second player if we don’t,” Emery said. “We were happy that (Vereen) was pushed down. Certainly running back is a big part of our offense. We have to have quality players like Matt (Forte) and Ka’Deem to be able to compete and run what we do efficiently.”
After the trade, the Bears closed the final day by picking San Jose State quarterback David Fales and Miami punter Michael O’Donnell in the sixth round and Boise State offensive tackle Charles Leno Jr. in the seventh. Then they added an intriguing player from nearby by getting an agreement from undrafted free agent quarterback Jordan Lynch of Northern Illinois, a former Heisman Trophy candidate, to become a Bear.
Vereen, the brother of Patriots running back Shane Vereen, projects as a free safety with Chicago after playing every defensive secondary position with Minnesota, including seven games at cornerback and six at safety as a senior.
“I felt comfortable at both, I made plays at both,” Vereen said. “Whichever one the Bears think I need to play to help them out the most, I’ll be more than happy to be there.”
Because his brother plays in the NFL and his father, Henry, was a ninth-round draft pick as a running back and receiver with Tampa Bay, Vereen said little in the game has felt new to him through his career.
“I feel like I’ve been able to watch football on an advanced level for a long time because I’ve been able to see the game through his eyes and my dad’s eyes, as well. And I have a better understanding of the game than some people had in high school and even more recently in college.”
Carey was chosen with the 117th overall pick. The 5-foot-9, 207-pounder skipped his senior year to come out for the draft. Carey was chosen the Pac-12 offensive player of the year and finished with 22 100-yard rushing games and an average of 117.8 yards rushing per game.
Carey compares his running style to 49ers back Frank Gore, and will be a backup behind 28-year-old veteran Matt Forte.
“Me being a youngster and being a rookie, I get to have the opportunity to play behind him and learn off a great running back,” Carey said.
At Arizona, Carey faced charges that were quickly dropped following a domestic dispute with his girlfriend. Later, he was removed from a men’s basketball game after confronting a university staff worker. Emery said he’s satisfied Carey has matured beyond these incidents, and Carey agrees.
“It’s in the past, it’s something you have to learn from,” Carey said.
Fales is viewed as third quarterback competition for Jerrod Johnson behind backup Jordan Palmer. He led the NCAA in completion percentage as a junior (.725) and completed 66 touchdown passes.
The other QB, Lynch, doesn’t necessarily strike Emery as a passer to develop under Bears coach Marc Trestman, but it’s too soon to announce plans for him.
“I think he’s a really fine runner,” Emery said. “I think the fact he can throw and throw with accuracy in a short area is good, too.
“I think you want as many athletes who can do as many things as possible and he certainly presents options that way.”
O’Donnell is a 6-foot-4, 220-pound punter who averaged a school-record 47.1 yards at Miami as a senior. The Bears have a need for a punter after letting go of Adam Podlesh.
Leno, who is 6-3 1/2, 302, is slated to compete at backup left tackle behind starter Jermon Bushrod.