On a talent-laden Texas squad, Kenny Vaccaro came in and immediately earned playing time, registering 19 tackles, a blocked punt and a forced fumble as a rotation player his freshman year. As a sophomore, he earned the team’s most valuable special teams player award, while starting six games at safety, where he registered 54 tackles, an interception, seven pass break-ups, and a blocked punt. With fellow Longhorn Earl Thomas‘ departure to the NFL following the 2010 campaign, Vaccaro emerged as arguably the best safety in the Big 12 as a junior, posting 82 tackles, eight tackles for loss, two sacks, eight passes broken up and two interceptions.He followed that up with a senior season in which he logged a career-high 107 stops, collecting five turnovers and repeating as a First Team All-Big 12 selection.
For NFL teams, Vacarro’s most desirable quality is his versatility. He has an optimal combination of size, tackling prowess and coverage ability that teams covet in a well-rounded safety. He can re-route slot receivers with his strength (and play a “star” linebacker in a dime package) and, at the same time, can utilize his size and speed to cover tight ends. He exhibits good instincts in zone coverage (and the athleticism to patrol a deep half or third), is an aggressive and technically-sound tackler and has proven to be an effective blitzer from the edge. With this impressive skillset, scouts believe he can flourish at either the traditional strong or free safety positions – a real plus in Monte Kiffin’s scheme. And, surprise, surprise: he’s an “RKG”: Vacarro is a passionate, dedicated player that has earned the respect of his teammates.
Lets go to the tape. Thanks the the lovely lads at Draft Breakdown, we have plenty of footage. Vacarro can be seen in Big 12 skirmishes against Baylor, Texas Tech, and Kansas State, as well as against non-conference foes Oregon State (where he goes against Cowboys invitee Markus Wheaton) and Ole Miss. Vacarro’s strong tape was substantiated for assembled scouts during the pre-draft circus; at the Combine, he logged good explosiveness and quickness scores: a 4.63 40-yard dash, 15 bench press reps, impressive 38-inch vertical and 10’1″ broad jumps and 4.06 short shuttle and 6.78 three-cone times.
But enough of Ol’ Rabble’s bloviating. You undoubtedly want to hear from our panel of esteemed scouts. Your wish is my command:
ESPN/ Scouts, Inc. (Gary Horton): top-rated S; 13th overall
Instincts/ Recognition: Reads quarterback’s eyes and shows good awareness when given deep zone responsibilities. Disciplined. Rarely takes the cheese in underneath zone coverage and rarely gets caught out of position biting on play action. Flashes above average route recognition and the ability to jump underneath routes when lines up over the slot. Instinctive pass rusher that