Fantasy Impact: New Orleans Saints select Kenny Vaccaro
With the 15th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints selected safety Kenny Vaccaro (Texas Longhorns). Vaccaro is widely considered to be the best safety available in this draft class, and he certainly looks the part at 6’0″ and 214 pounds.
Unfortunately, his combine measurables – most notably his 4.63 40-yard dash time – don’t really stand out, and neither does his play on tape. For one great example, while he jumped a route for an easy interception against Oklahoma State last year, much more concerning was the poor angle he took to the ballcarrier on Joseph Randle’s 69-yard first quarter TD run.
Reviewing the tape on Vaccaro shows a lot of missed arm tackles, poor angles, and blown coverage. He isn’t big enough to play linebacker, and doesn’t have the speed or open-field playmaking ability needed to play free safety. Meanwhile, as a strong safety, he’s likely to find himself regularly matched up in pass coverage against some elite-level tight ends, and that’s not likely to go very well, either. With the safety class as deep as it is, Vaccaro is a safe bet to underperform relative to his draft spot. Or, to put it another way, if Xavier Rhodes were listed at cornerback rather than safety, there’s little question which player would be higher on NFL teams’ draft boards. The biggest winners here are the Dallas Cowboys, who have effectively been saved from what would have been an absolutely terrible choice at pick #18.
College statistics courtesy of Sports Reference.
Vaccaro will be joining a terrible Saints defense, and should get plenty of tackle opportunities. But with Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper already in the fold, there’s good reason to question where Vaccaro fits in. Unless there’s a trade or cut, Vaccaro’s impact will be minimized early on, and there’s little reason to believe that Jenkins can handle a move back to cornerback. Look for Harper to be a casualty at some point – perhaps as soon as 2013 – to make room for Vaccaro in the starting lineup.