What did some of those coaches and analysts have to say about the pick?
New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton?
I think he’s got very good football intelligence. Part of being a pressure guy from the back end is anticipation, snap count and disguise. I think he’s an instinctive player, and you see that on tape. He’s got a high football IQ. I think that’s important. I don’t know if he had a lot of pressure opportunities, but I know that he’s had a lot of snaps down over the slot and a lot of snaps where they were in the base package as opposed to the nickel package.
He’s been interviewed by us at the combine. We flew him in for an interview. We saw every snap he’s played and spoken to everyone we valued the opinion of, and then went back and really paid attention to his resume and that’s what was on the table.
I think he’s got that toughness and that suddenness that you’d like at that position. I think he brings a physical dimension to the game he plays with. He’s been well-coached. They do a great job there defensively. There were a lot of things we liked about him. That versatility is unique, and something that I think is beneficial. This is a good, young football player that’ll well add to our defense, and we’ll see what happens.
Texas Longhorns assistant head coach/defensive backs coach Duane Akina
I think first and foremost they’re getting an extremely passionate player that loves football. And not because of financial gains, and obviously that’s something that comes with it. But he just loves the game. He’s the ultimate competitor. When people ask me to compare him to someone, I always say Earl Thomas and Cedric Griffin are the first ones to come to mind. Because that’s how they really approached the games and the practices. And you’re going to get a guy that is going to be a great teammate. He’s very unselfish. While at Texas [with him] still being one of our top-tier players. Still willing to play special teams and cover kickoffs. Do all the real unselfish things you ask your great players to be. I always ask them to be selfless and do what’s best for the team. And Kenny has always done that. When we’ve approached him with some tough defends, or some tough ideas, asking him if he thinks he could do this, he was always willing to take on the difficult role to maybe make things a little bit easier for a younger player that we’re trying to take care of within the scheme of things. Ultimate team player. Very flexible. He can play man-coverage, in the deep-half or deep-third. He can blitz. It’s just hard to find a guy 214-215 pounds that has those kind of skills, that runs a 4.3 documented and line up and run with them. And still be physical enough to get in the box and play the run.
ESPN analyst John Gruden?
He doesn’t play like a conventional safety. He plays like a nickel corner in the slot, and he does have coverage ability. The New Orleans Saints gave up 7,000 yards because they gave up a lot of big plays. They need another safety that can play on every down. He can cover slot receivers, and he can come down in the box and tackle. He can come down and fill the alley. I do think he has a physical presence. He was a great special teams player early in his career at Texas.
ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr.?
Mack Brown loves this kid. The comparisons are out there to [Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro] Troy Polamalu because he is a striker, he is an intimidator and he is a gifted athlete. They ended up with an impact safety in Kenny Vaccaro.
NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock?
You finally have a safety that can play with [New Orleans Saints S] Malcolm Jenkins, as far as an athlete. This is a young man that this year at Texas, dropped down over the slot and covered slots man-to-man. I went back to his tape a year ago because I wanted to see him come off the hatch and play deep stuff, and he is very good at that. He fits perfectly what they do.