When the New Orleans Saints selected safety Kenny Vaccaro with the No. 15 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, the question was whether he would supplant Malcolm Jenkins at free safety or Roman Harper at strong safety.
As it turns out, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan envisioned Vaccaro in a rover role, lining up at multiple positions.
Ryan said, via NFL Media's Jeff Darlington on Friday's edition of NFL Network's "Around the League Live," that this is the most he's ever "put on a rookie's plate" in his 10 years as an NFL defensive coordinator.
According to ESPN.com's Mike Triplett, Vaccaro already has lined up as a deep safety, an in-the-box safety, a nickel back in the slot, a cornerback on the outside, an inside linebacker and an outside linebacker in Ryan's various formations.
"I think I've played every position except for D-tackle and D-end. Well, sometimes I line up there and blitz," Vaccaro said this week. "They really use me in every way. And I think Rob's scheme fits perfect. Because a 220-pound nickel-slash-corner-slash-linebacker-slash-outside linebacker, I think it works in this scheme."
Vaccaro isn't quite as athletically gifted as a young Troy Polamalu, but Ryan is using him in a similar fashion as a movable chess piece.
Now that the Atlanta Falcons are losing key starters at the rate of more than one per week, the Saints are re-emerging as favorites in the NFC South. If the defense continues to hold opponents to fewer than 20 points, they might even run away with the division crown.