The New Orleans Saints went a long way toward fixing its horrendous defense from last year with the selection of Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro in the first round of this year’s draft.
Now Vaccaro is flashing glimpses of what Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu has done for years.
Vaccaro is playing a similar role, and he’s playing it well according to ESPN’s Mike Triplett:
Williamson said the way Ryan has been using Vaccaro is similar to how Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau uses versatile safety Troy Polamalu.
“A true jack of all trades that has to be accounted for on every snap, because you never know where he is going to be,” Williamson said. “Vaccaro isn’t as explosive as Polamalu, but he does offer similar versatility.”
Of course Vaccaro (listed at 6-feet, 214 pounds) remains a work in progress. Veteran teammates Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper both said last week that Vaccaro has been out of position at times — but they said he’s shown the ability to make corrections on the fly (though Vaccaro respectfully disputed that was the case on the final play against Atlanta).
Vaccaro has made the typical rookie mistakes as he learns on the fly, but comparisons—even mentions with Polamalu is a great sign. Right now Vaccaro is one of the best players the Saints have on defense despite being a rookie.
It would be premature to expect Vaccaro to turn into one of the best in the NFL this year, but his versatility will go a long way in helping the Saints get back to the playoffs.
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