New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton said team officials were most impressed with the football IQ of Kenny Vaccaro, the former Texas safety the team selected with the 15th overall pick in Thursday night’s opening session of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Vaccaro, a big hitter known for his versatility during this college career, had success a blitzer, a run stopper and a cover man at Texas.
“He’s got very good football intelligence,” Payton said. “Part of being a pressure guy from the back end is anticipation, snap count and disguise. I think he’s an instinctive player, and you see that on tape. He’s got a high football IQ. I think that’s important ... He’s had a lot of snaps down over the slot and a lot of snaps where they were in the base package as opposed to the nickel package. He’s got that toughness and suddenness that you’d like at that position.”
Vaccaro becomes the 12th defensive back from Texas on an active NFL roster, most of any school, and is the first Longhorn to be taken in the first round since 2010, when Seattle selected safety Earl Thomas.
Ironically, Vaccaro said he’s already talked to Thomas about adjusting to the NFL and plans to follow his advice.
“Earl Thomas told me to come in, have a chip on my shoulder and put an impact on this league,” Vaccaro said. “(Thomas said), ‘Don’t just sit around and wait for someone else to take your job.’ I am excited ... This is just the beginning. I am ready to do whatever the Saints want me to do.”
_ Jimmy Burch