Photo of Kenny Vaccaro
Grade
87.7 ?
  • 4.63 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 15 REPS
    Top Performer
  • 38.0 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 121.0 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 6.78 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 4.06 SEC
    Top Performer
Blue Star  =  Top Performer
  • 6'0" Height
  • 32 3/4" Arm Length
  • 214LBS. Weight
  • 10" Hands

Overview

Vaccaro set the bar high for himself and his teammates while announcing his intention to return to Texas for his senior season. "I wanna win the Thorpe, that's it," Vaccaro said. "And go to South Beach." The Thorpe Award is awarded to the nation’s best defensive back (LSU star and top-10 draft pick Morris Claiborne won it in 2011), and Miami is the venue for the BCS Championship Game. Unfortunately, Vaccaro’s goals went unmet. The Longhorns lost four games and the defense struggled mightily for stretches. Vaccaro, however, was one of the bright spots for Texas (92 tackles, 2 interceptions, 7 passes defensed), earning second-team All-Conference honors and showing the skills that will make him one of the first safeties off the board in the 2012 draft



There was discussion about Vaccaro leaving Austin early due to his first-team All-Big 12 play in 2011 (67 tackles, 6.5 for loss, two interceptions, seven pass breakups). He made headlines by wearing injured teammate Fozzy Whitaker’s No. 2 jersey against Texas A&M (intercepting a pass in the big 27-25 win) and finished the year off strong with two tackles for loss and a sack in the team’s Holiday Bowl win over California. As a sophomore, he won the team’s Most Valuable Special Teams Player while also starting six games at safety (54 tackles, one interception, seven pass break-ups, blocked punt). And despite missing all but three games of his senior year of high school due to a knee injury, Vaccaro found himself a regular contributor on defense and special teams as a true freshman (19 tackles, one forced fumble, blocked punt).

Analysis

Strengths

NFL starting combo safety material with a very good blend of overall strength and athleticism. Often used as a nickel back despite a thick overall build. Very loose hips and good overall change-of-direction ability. Locks onto slot receivers at the line and has the agility and straight-game speed to stay with them on out routes and downfield. Physical with receivers trying to block him in the run game, has the strength to rip off and make a stop. Solid open-field tackler, uses great effort and his upper-body strength to drag down ball carriers. Strong off the edge as a blitzer, has bend to turn the corner and gets physical with running backs standing in his way. Flashes the hands and body control to catch passes away from his body. Good change of direction ability and shows the range to play the half-field in Cover Two. Attacks downhill against the run well, running the alley aggressively from deep-half coverage.

Weaknesses

Used extensively in man coverage and around the line, must continue improving as a reliable back-half defender against the pass and last line of defense against long runs. One-speed player who lacks burst. Is not quite agile or fast enough to stick with better NFL receivers, backpedal is high and stiff, can be out-quicked in space, and loses a step running down the seam. Can get caught freelancing and watching the backfield in zone coverage, and will bite on play action. Knee injury ended his senior season in high school after three games. Can fill downhill out of control, losing his leverage on the ball carrier and missing tackles. Doesn’t always take good angles and is prone to running himself too far upfield when he’s the “force” defender.

NFL Comparison

Morgan Burnett

Bottom Line

Vaccaro is a confident, athletic All-Big 12 performer with potential as a combo safety (14 pass break-ups the past two seasons, often playing as a nickel back). He still needs to improve his instincts as a last line of defense. An athlete whose aggressive nature and man coverage skills will be coveted, Vaccaro figures to be one of the first safeties selected in April’s draft, most likely in the second or third round -- much higher than his uncle, A.J. Johnson, a sixth-round pick out of Texas State in 1989 who played cornerback in the NFL for seven seasons and was a member of the Super Bowl XXVI-winning Washington Redskins.
C
Grade Title
9.00-10 Once-in-lifetime player
8.00-8.99 Perennial All-Pro
7.50-7.99 Future All-Pro
7.00-7.49 Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.50-6.99 Chance to become Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.00-6.49 Should become instant starter
5.50-5.99 Chance to become NFL starter
5.20-5.49 NFL backup or special teams potential
5.01-5.19 Better-than-average chance to make NFL roster
5.00 50-50 Chance to make NFL roster
4.75-4.99 Should be in an NFL training camp
4.50-4.74 Chance to be in an NFL training camp
No Grade Likely needs time in developmental league.
NFL News
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