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Saints go familiar route in 1st round with selection of Texas safety

Kenny VaccaroThe Saints selected Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro with the 15th pick of the first round of the NFL Draft Thursday night.

Vaccaro is the 10th defensive back drafted by the Saints in the Sean Payton era. Three times in the last 5 years, the Saints have picked a defensive back in the first round.

The Saints drafted cornerback Malcolm Jenkins of Ohio State in 2009, and Florida State cornerback Patrick Robinson in 2010.

Head coach Sean Payton said the Saints felt that Vaccaro was “a fit”. Payton said Vaccaro can play safety and nickel cornerback covering a slot receiver.

The  6-0, 214 pound Vaccaro started 32 of 51 games at the University of Texas. Vaccaro started 15 games at strong safety, 13 at free safety, three at strong side outside linebacker, and one at middle linebacker.

Vaccaro had 5 interceptions at Texas, and 21 pass deflections. Vaccaro attended the NFL draft in New York Thursday night. He told reporters by phone that he thought there was a real chance the Saints would draft him.

“I’m excited to come down there and play. It was my last visit and I just had a really good feeling walking out of there that I might be a Saint,” said Vaccaro. “I’m excited to get down there and play some football.”

Payton would not say how the selection of Vaccaro would affect the status of veteran safety Roman Harper.

Payton would only say there would be “competition.”

The draft continues Friday with the second and third rounds. The Saints currently do not own a second round pick.  They do have a pick in round 3, #75 overall.