I didn’t wait until 2013 to start looking at the prospects in this draft class. At the start of this past season, I extensively analyzed about 15 of the most hyped played that were likely to be in the 2013 draft class. Of all of them, Vaccaro was the one that most worried me as an NFL prospect. Let’s see if his senior year has changed my mind.
S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
Vaccaro’s calling card is his versatility. He is likely to be drafted as a free safety. He frequently covered slot receivers at UT (especially in the video below). He’s also capable of playing strong safety, though for every big hit he lands, he misses a tackle and takes himself out of the play.
Vaccaro will likely be selected higher in the draft than any Longhorn DB since Earl Thomas, and is already getting a lot of superficial comparisons to the Seahawk. One thing that certainly doesn’t compare his speed. Otherwise, Vaccaro passes the eye test with flying colors, displaying great athleticism, good balance and ideal size for a free safety.
The Oklahoma State tape certainly doesn’t work in Vaccaro’s favor. He has a lot of difficulty fighting through blocks when he comes up to make plays at the line. Generally, he does a better job at playing the run from the safety position, but he’s also prone to taking bad angles from there. Vaccaro has shown leadership ability on the field, but has also been arrested a couple of times at UT, which will be sorted in interviews at the Combine. He has great instincts. He can be had on play-action fakes, but he really understands the offensive game, and does a great job of reading route progressions. This leads to him being around the ball a lot. Unfortunately, his biggest shortcoming is that his ball skills are severely lacking, as evidenced by a measly 5 interceptions in 51 career games.
I think Vaccaro is going to end up with a team that’s ignoring the obvious negatives. Vaccaro’s positives are everything a team could want. Versatility is extremely important for NFL DBs, and Vaccaro can play a number of positions and cover tight ends, receivers and running backs. He’s also a special teams standout, evidenced by two blocked kicks on his resume. The problem is that I don’t think anyone would see him as a full-time strong safety, and who wants a free safety that can’t make plays on the ball? Vaccaro is a tantalizing prospect, but I can’t even give him a first-round grade. He needs a lot of work.