The New Orleans Saints have made some outstanding first-round selections during the Sean Payton-era. With the No. 15 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, Kenny Vaccaro was called upon to bring his talents over to the Crescent City in hopes of becoming the franchise’s long-term option at safety.
A product of the University of Texas, Vaccaro totaled 231 tackles (14 for a loss), 24 passes defended, five interceptions, four forced fumbles and two sacks during his four years with the Longhorns. He was a two-time First-Team All-Big 12 selection and a First-Team All American in 2012, his senior year.
As a rookie in New Orleans in 2013, he finished second on the team in total tackles (62) and third in combined tackles (79) in 14 games played. Vaccaro also racked up a sack, an interception and a forced fumble. He was a candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year, but he had no shot at the award after an astonishing performance by Buffalo Bills LB Kiko Alonso. The former UT standout was still named to the All-Rookie after a solid first-year campaign in the Big Easy.
With Roman Harper now out of the picture, Vaccaro’s numbers will likely see a considerable increase in 2014. Barring any setbacks, he is locked in as the team’s starting strong safety when the new season kicks off. Rookie Vinnie Sunseri and free agent acquisition Marcus Ball (former CFL player) are the top two candidates to battle it out at training camp for the backup role.
At 6-foot-0 and 214 pounds, Vaccaro brings excellent size to his position. He is a strong, explosive athlete with the speed, versatility and awareness to stretch the field from sideline to sideline. This kid is the real deal and has the potential to be one of the great safeties in the National Football League. With training camp just around the corner, it will be exciting to see how much he has matured and improved his game.