Some of you may remember that once each week I write for the football site This Given Sunday. My task is simple, rank the first round draft picks 1 through 32, week to week, based on how they perform. You probably won't be surprised to know that through twelve weeks, the Saints made what I consider an excellent draft choice in Kenny Vaccaro. Indeed, he ranks sixth in my rankings of 32 players. All the guys ahead of him, by the way, have arguably been playing at a Pro Bowl level. Vaccaro is third on the Saints with 54 tackles and he also has a sack and an interception this year. I think that unquestionably based on 12 games of evidence, which admittedly isn't much, the Saints made the right selection with Vaccaro. And you can trust me on this, I've tracked each rookie's performance very closely.
The only players I have ranked higher are Shelden Richardson, Eric Reid, Alec Ogletree, Star Lotulelei and Desmond Trufant. Of those, only Olgetree, Reid and Trufant were drafted lower than Vaccaro (so Richardson and Lotulelei were never options). You'll remember I was dying for the Saints to land Lotulelei and he's lived up to the hype. That said, the Saints landed John Jenkins in round 3 and while he hasn't been as good as the Carolina run stopping anchor, he's been a nice player. Some of you may be thinking that Reid is a safety too, so maybe the Saints would be better off with him. I disagree, because the things that Vaccaro brings to the defense are things Reid can't really do. In many defenses Reid might be a better player, but the Saints have a guy in Malcolm Jenkins who already fits that need. Rob Ryan has found a way in his system to utilize Vaccaro and play to his strengths. The result is that he's playing extremely well and proving the organization right in drafting him. The only bummer is that the Falcons somehow managed to draft a really good player too. Somehow three of the top six best 1st round picks are all from the NFC South this season. Granted we will see how their careers develop over time.