Kenny Vaccaro, Safety
Hold on, I know what you’re thinking: “I know who Kenny Vaccaro is. He has already broken out”. Back in 2013 as a fresh-faced rookie Kenny Vaccaro stormed into the NFL as a versatile defensive back who was a chess piece in the great blitzing game that Rob Ryan played with the Saints defense as he picked up a sack, 4 tackles for loss, 8 pass defenses and a forced fumble in an impressive rookie season. However over the last two seasons Vaccaro’s performance has dropped off to the point where the Saints may start looking elsewhere for a safety soon if he doesn’t pick up his performances.
So why could this be the year Vaccaro breaks out, again? Well Rob Ryan has finally left town, giving the whole defense a chance at a fresh start under new coordinator Dennis Allen. He has also been deployed in even more roles than previously so far in 2016. In OTA’s earlier this year Vaccaro was repped in at strong safety, nickel corner and even the Sam linebacker spot. It’s that last one that really interests me.
There has been a recent trend of moving strong safeties down into linebacker spots with great success. Deone Bucannon plays what the Cardinals call the “Dollar” linebacker in Arizona and has been spectacular despite having to deal with guards far more often than a 209 lb player should have to. At the Rams Mark Barron was moved down to Will linebacker to cover for injury and it reignited his career. Can the same happen for Vaccaro? With Stephone Anthony, Dannell Ellerbe, James Laurinaitis at linebacker Vaccaro may not be able to take full-time snaps there, however the Saints also have a lot of options at safety with Jarius Byrd, Roman Harper and the newly drafted Vonn Bell.
It’s likely that Vaccaro will bounce around this year, doing a bit of this and a bit of that for Allen. At the end of the season his stat line might not look brilliant but that’s the kind of situation where an athletic and hard hitting player can excel, and that is Vaccaro’s MO.