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Friday, July 4, 2014
Saints rankings: No. 11 S Kenny Vaccaro

By Mike Triplett

I'm ranking the top 20 New Orleans Saints players leading up to training camp. It's based on their current value -- meaning both past accomplishments and potential are taken into account. Think, who would you want on the field most in Week 1 this season?

At No. 11, it's safety Kenny Vaccaro.

Profile: Year 2, Age 23, 6-foot, 214 pounds

Vaccaro
Analysis: Vaccaro came in as a rookie last year and made a huge impact. He helped light a fire under the Saints' defense both with his versatile skill set and his aggressive attitude. Even more is expected from him going forward as he has already become a young leader on this rising unit.

Vaccaro finished third in the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year voting after tallying 79 tackles, one interception, one forced fumble and one sack before a fractured ankle ended his season in Week 16. But those numbers don't tell the full story of his value. Creative defensive coordinator Rob Ryan loved using Vaccaro all over the field because of his versatility -- everything from covering slot receivers to lining up as a linebacker at times.

Ryan said last year that he believes the Seattle Seahawks' Earl Thomas is the best free safety in the NFL, but Vaccaro is the best "overall safety."

Vaccaro and coaches have said they plan to give him a more specific role this year that best exploits his talents inside of a loaded secondary that also includes fellow safeties Jairus Byrd and Rafael Bush. If Vaccaro continues to deliver on his promise, the Saints could challenge Seattle for the best "overall" secondary, as well.

Previous rankings:

No. 20 (tie) RBs Mark Ingram/Khiry Robinson
No. 19 WR Kenny Stills
No. 18 S Rafael Bush
No. 17 LB David Hawthorne
No. 16 CB Champ Bailey
No. 15 P Thomas Morstead
No. 14 OT Zach Strief
No. 13 RB Pierre Thomas
No. 12 DE Akiem Hicks