Oct 27, 2012; Lawrence, KS, USA; Texas Longhorns safety Kenny Vaccaro (4) comes onto the field for the game with the Kansas Jayhawks at Memorial Stadium. Texas won the game 21-17. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Should The Dallas Cowboys Draft Kenny Vaccaro?

When scouting a player for the NFL Draft or the Dallas Cowboys, it is important to have formed your own opinion on players.  “Group-think” or taking the opinions of others is lazy scouting. The truth of the matter is far too often analysts and writers don’t watch enough film to share their own opinions. It happens to everyone. In fact it happened to me this week.

I began writing this article with the full intention of telling you that Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro might be the elite, playmaking safety that Dallas Cowboy fans have longed for and if available, should be the selection with the 18th overall pick. But after watching more of Vaccaro and digging a little deeper than just highlight clips and listening to the media, I must admit I am not as impressed as I should be for a potential first round safety.

Oct 6, 2012; Austin, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns safety Kenny Vaccaro (4) looks into the back field during the game against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. West Virginia beat Texas 48-45. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Kenny Vaccaro is widely considered the best safety in the 2013 NFL Draft class. But he is a very different player than the other safeties in his class. Vaccaro has the rare ability to play as a deep center fielder on one play and then come into the box on the next. He can also cover the most explosive slot wide receivers college football has to offer.  This was very evident when he was assigned to cover West Virginia’s Tavon Austin early in the 2012 season. Austin is one of the most electric offensive players in the entire 2013 NFL Draft and Vaccaro did a fine job coming down and limiting his production.

The NFL Combine isn’t the end all, be all for draft prospects. But what it does offer is the ability for a team to compare prospects to former draftees. For the sake of comparison, these are the last four safeties to be drafted in the first round and their measurables next to Kenny Vaccaro:




40 yard


Kenny Vaccaro





Earl Thomas





Mark Barron





Eric Berry





Harrison Smith






Vaccaro is a high effort, smart player who can be the quarterback of an NFL defense. However, he lacks the elite speed and athleticism of an Eric Berry or Earl Thomas.  Mark Barron, Harrison Smith, and Kenny Vaccaro are similar players in terms of straight-line speed, but Vaccaro lacks the size and the elite tackling ability that Barron and Smith posses. Vaccaro does a good job at staying with quicker players, and his positional versatility will attract many teams come April.

But one thing Kenny Vaccaro hasn’t been able to do at Texas as well some safeties in this draft is create turnovers. During his four years at Texas, he was only produced five career interceptions. Last week I wrote about how the Cowboys safeties failed to create turnovers over the last two seasons which you can read right here: http://thelandryhat.com/2013/03/03/a-case-for-an-upgrade-at-safety/

The thought of drafting a safety that has yet to prove that he can take the ball away is somewhat disturbing, especially when you take into consideration the massive needs on the offensive and defensive lines.  Vaccaro also isn’t the most fundamentally sound tackler. Far too often he is over-aggressive and launches his body with his head down causing him to miss open field tackles.

Feb 25, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Texas Longhorns defensive back Kenny Vaccaro gets in his defensive stance in a drill during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Vaccaro also has been involved in a few minor incidents during his time at Texas. He was arrested at a local pizza shop for refusing to leave. Although this was a minor offense, it would go against head coach Jason Garrett’s philosophy in terms of drafting the “right kind of guy”.

While I believe Kenny Vaccaro is going to be a good player in the NFL and deservingly belongs in the first round, I do not believe he should be the top option for the Dallas Cowboys come April. Monte Kiffin’s defensive philosophy is to emphasize speed while creating turnovers; a trait where Vaccaro is clearly deficient. I do believe he is a safe draft choice and a fall back option for Dallas. However, it is my belief that he is not going to produce the number of turnovers that the Dallas Cowboys and their fans would expect from a first round safety playing in a Monte’ Kiffin defense.

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Tags: Dallas Cowboys Defense Kenny Vaccaro NFL Draft Safety

  • Jeff

    We should draft OL. This draft class has some good ones to help out Tyron smith

    • Troy Spurlock

      Yessss we should

  • Juanito Juanito

    cowbys need one of the 3 top draft guards in draft, after that a safety

  • Jeff

    If Warmack or Cooper are available at 18th overall that would be a real nice immediate upgrade. Not only will line protect romo but will also help Murray

  • Jeff

    We might end up with DJ Fluker at 18 we will see how quick Lane Johnson gets picked up

  • Jeff

    Chiefs, Jags, Eagles and Titans will all draft OL I’m sure. Might come down to who the Browns and the Bills draft.

  • Jeff

    If the rams snipe us w the 16th pick that would really suck

  • MarkRP

    yeah, who needs an o-line. Running the ball and pass protecting aren’t too important in the NFL.

  • Ambria graham

    Vaccaro,Carr & Claiborne n the back end would be Super!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • billy

    dont leave us there. who is the safety the boys need to draft?

  • Marcus Mosher

    If I were Dallas, I would really think hard about Phillip Thomas in the 3rd. Playmaking machine at Fresno State.

  • triplets 2.0

    I believe the best move is to address o line and maybe rb before drafting rambo from georgia late 2nd to 3rd round. Look at our previous draft pick tyron smith. Not a complaint in the world as far as him and as well as several other deemed 1st round lineman drafted recently. Felix might be around but the need for backup rb is a definite. I liked rambo from onset of college football last year. I think he will fill our need for a cover 2 safety and be stout in run support. But i really believe this is a thin safety draft class in terms of potential in comparison to previous years

  • Jeff

    Maybe go for Matthieu if the price is right. No way you will get him in the 5th have to pull the trigger in the 4th round and he will still be a huge steal!

  • californy

    JJ will draft this guy because OL dont sell Jersies

  • jrcowboy49

    If Warmack
    or Cooper is available at 18 they are the prefered choice. DJ Fluker @ ROT and Vacarro warrant consideration if these
    2 or Richardson DT, Floyd DT are not available .

  • Ambria graham

    Vaccoro & Da HoneyBadger!WOW

  • truth

    I say “NO” to Safety. Do we need one or two great Safeties, yes. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s not what Cowboys need 1st and foremost!!!
    Now if Cowboys had a Decent Pass-Rush or Defensive-Line(front 4 or 7) than yes, let’s go and solidy the best player available with a spice of need!! Even if it’s a Safety.
    But the honest truth, is that Cowboys don’t have a decent or scary Front 4, let alone a decent/scary front 7.
    Now let’s work on that 1st and foremost and then, intelligently enough, branch out to other needs, yay? It’s kind of like the Offense. You can make WRs out of nothing, if you just had an OL to give you enough time. The men in the trenches give your QB the ability to Perform Well as so do the Front Defensive Line, that being the 2ndary!!

  • truth

    What happened to the days when Cowboys would draft Pro-Bowlers in the late rounds??? 3 through 7th round??? How things have changed….