Kenny Vaccaro will unquestionably make an impact for the Saints. But is he a Pro Bowl player? His presence is already felt among the incumbent safeties, with the constant assurances to the media about their own position being safe and promises of the coaches to play the best player at each position. They both say they wish nothing but W’s on the win-loss column. Despite what you think about their honesty on the issue, Vaccaro is out to win a job in some capacity with the Saints.
Ty Schalter with Bleacher Report writes in his article on some rookies potential for a pro bowl berth that Vaccaro will have a great chance at interceptions and tackles. Here’s his reasoning:
Offensive coordinators and quarterbacks like to pick on inexperienced defensive backs, and they won’t be testing incumbent cornerback Jabari Greer and safety Malcolm Jenkins too often. The other corner, Keenan Lewis, is a young veteran with a good track record in Pittsburgh.
Quarterbacks will throw at Vaccaro early and often, and he has the tools to make them pay.
He also reiterates what Saints coaches have said about his potential covering the nickel position in some packages. While we could all argue his reasoning about throwing away from Greer and Jenkins, coordinators are certain to test Vaccaro’s ability to hit the ground running this year. Quarterbacks love to pick on rookies, especially in the secondary. If Vaccaro is going to be covering more than just tight ends and running backs, you can be certain he will be picked on if at all possible.
It is hard to argue with Vaccaro’s potential. As the best safety prospect in this draft class, Vaccaro has a great blend of coverage ability and hard-hitting impact. But, the NFL is harder than the college game, as well all know. Offensive game plans are much more complex and take many different strengths into account. Vaccaro is by no means slow and plays faster than his reported 40 yard dash times (in the 4.6 range). But his speed will tested, as well as his tendency to look in the backfield.
If you want to be encouraged by his physical skills and his reading ability, check out his evaluation on Sport Science. There is much to be happy about concerning his read-and-react ability and the physical skills he has to actually make those reads. Also, remember he is a safety, and he’s being graded against wide receivers and cornerbacks.
He is an amazing player and his potential is limitless. He could bring back memories of Darren Sharper and his ball-hawking ability. He could also remind us of Kevin Kaesviharn, Fred Thomas, Jason David *gasp* or any number of disappointing former Saints. His play at Texas is inspiring and is definitely one of the reasons he is now a Saint. But that guarantees nothing.
It still is too early to tell, especially since no regular seasons have been played, whether or not he will be considered for the Pro Bowl. He has to beat out the incumbents and prove his worth on the practice field before he can even be considered a starter, let alone a Pro Bowl player. But the Saints wouldn’t have drafted a player to sit on the bench, and if any player on the Saints defense has the chance to contend for a Pro Bowl berth, chances are it might just be Kenny Vaccaro. In my opinion, he is a Pro Bowl player for the Saints this year. We can only hope that I am right.