by Adam Sweeney
Bourbon Street, meet the burnt orange. Kenny Vaccaro is headed to the Big Easy as the No. 15 pick of the 2013 NFL Draft by the New Orlean Saints. Vaccaro will be asked to use his exceptional instincts to help shore up a defense that ranked 31st overall in defending the pass and set an NFL record for most yards allowed.
Why the Saints Chose Vaccaro
The Saints were seduced by Vaccaro's versatility and we can't blame them. There aren't many safeties who can cover both the Rob Gronkowski's and and Wes Welker's of the world, and Vaccaro can as a free safety, strong safety, and even corner lining up on the slot receiver. He has an NFL-ready body and a blend of coverage skills, solid tackling, and hard-hitting aggression that make him a potential game-changer. Scouts have compared him to Adrian Wilson, a player any team would have loved to have in his prime. Vaccaro also has drawn comparison to Lifetime Longhorns Aaron Williams and Earl Thomas, but those comparisons both feel a bit like a forced fit, as Vaccaro is a bit more versatile than Williams while less of a ball hawk than Thomas.
Where does Vaccaro Fit in with the Saints?
The Saints already have a starting strong safety in Roman Harper but his days are numbered. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is as blitz happy as they come and Vaccaro, whose value increases the closer he plays to the line of scrimmage, will fit right into his scheme. With Harper ahead of him for now, the Saints can take their time in grooming Vaccaro.
The Bottom Line
Vaccaro can step in quickly for Harper if the trend of hellacious pass defense from 2012 extends into next season, and will eventually gain a role as a leader who lets his energetic on-field play do the majority of the talking. If he can rein in his emotions, eliminate his tendency to launch himself at players (Roger Goodell will have something to say if he can't), and take better angles in his line of pursuit (especially in the deep part of the secondary), the (insert team) will have a future Pro Bowl safety on their hands.At worst, Vaccaro is a dependable defender and a cornerstone of a defense.
You hate to use the term "can't miss prospect" but Vaccaro seems to fit the term as well as any defender in this draft. In an NFL landscape that rewards teams more for consistency than risk (The recent Philadelphia Eagles squads are proof of that), sometimes the safe pick is the best pick and Kenny Vaccaro, as the most complete safety in the draft, Vaccaro looks to have a long and sometimes highlight-heavy career ahead of him with the Saints.
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