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Brock Vereen opened eyes at combine, Minnesota pro day

New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen's little brother is moving into the spotlight.

Minnesota's Brock Vereen followed up a strong performance at the NFL Scouting Combine with a solid showing at the Gophers' pro day Monday, and looks to have become a likely third-day draft pick.

Vereen (6-foot, 199 pounds) was selected as a first-team All-Big Ten defensive back by the league's coaches in 2013; he started the first six games at free safety, then started the final seven games at cornerback. That versatility was a Vereen trademark: He was part-time starting corner as a true freshman in 2010, was a fulltime starter at corner in 2011, then was a starter at free safety in 2012.

Despite the NFL looking for "big" corners, Vereen looks to fit best at strong safety at the next level. He is solid in run support and his coverage skills need some improvement. He told Minneapolis radio station KSTP that he has talked with teams about playing safety, nickel and corner, though he told the station his best games have come at safety and at nickelback.

Vereen ran surprisingly well at the combine, clocking 4.47 in the 40 -- fastest among all the safeties. He also led all defensive backs with 25 reps in the bench press, had a 34-inch vertical jump and a broad jump of 9 feet, 9 inches. That performance has drawn notice -- but Vereen is trying not to pay attention to the noise.

"I haven't watched ESPN in two months," Vereen told KSTP. "I haven't watched NFL Network. If someone starts a conversation about that, I tell them to stop. I'll worry about that in May."

At Minnesota's pro day, Vereen stood on his physical results from the combine but did do the position drills.

"I don't want to use the word 'surprise,' but I feel like I opened some eyes at the combine, and I wanted to show that it wasn't a fluke or anything like that, just remove all doubt," Vereen told KSTP.

Minnesota Vikings GM Rick Spielman was one of those in attendance at the Gophers' pro day and he told KSTP that Vereen's fast 40 time at the combine "really opened a lot of people's eyes."

Vereen has talked with his older brother about the draft process, and now plans to move to California and live with Shane for the next two months in the run-up to the draft. The two haven't played on the same team since 2006, Shane's senior season and Brock's freshman year at Valencia (Calif.) High.

"Both of us want to play against each other so much that we haven't really talked about being on the same team," Brock told the Boston Herald last month.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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