The Sports Daily > The Saints Nation
Saints Nation: Time for Saints to Start Anew at Safety

I've been done with the Malcolm Jenkins/Roman Harper back end experiment for a while and I've made no secret of this. I blame them as much as anyone for how pathetically horrible the Saints were on defense last year. Further, I blame those two players most specifically for the last two postseason exits. Of 88 qualifying graded safeties last year on Pro Football Focus, Harper was 87th and Jenkins was 88th. Yep, that's right, the Saints' starters ranked as the two absolute worst in the entire league last year. If that's not a good enough reason for change, then nothing will convince you.

I like the Kenny Vaccaro pick. When the Saints were on the board at 15 I was heartbroken by Star Lotulelei being picked by the Panthers with the pick before. I know there's some whacky reason why they picked before the Saints, but why are they doing that when they swept the Saints anyway and the teams had the same record? I am so bitter about that. But Star isn't a Saint so it's a moot point. At that point my board had Vaccaro at #3 behind DT Sharrif Floyd and LB Jarvis Jones. That said, you could argue safety is a bigger need, Floyd is more suited for a 4-3, AND we don't have access to Jones' medical files and the Saints may have ruled him out due to spinal health, or lack thereof. It's not like the Saints "blew it", and frankly the amount of negative feedback from fans about this pick is just silly.

Anyway, now that Vaccaro is the guy it's time to accept him as a Saint and start rooting for him. I believe his natural place is at strong safety where he can play around the line of scrimmage and be most effective. I think he's an upgrade over Roman Harper because he has much better ball tracking skills and coverage ability, while not giving up anything in the physicality and tackling department. Those that mention his speed being an issue, realize most NFL safeties don't have top end speed which is why they play safety to begin with. That's also why I feel he's a better fit at strong safety where he doesn't have to be the last line of defense.

It's time to move on from the Jenkins/Harper tandem. I think Jenkins should be moved back to corner to compete for a nickel spot, or he can play special teams. Roman Harper at his contract level won't be with the Saints past this year and I could see him cut prior to that. They just haven't lived up to their potential and now that Vaccaro is on board teamed up with the incredible promise Isa Abdul-Quddus showed us last year, it's time to play with a new starting pair at safety. Abdul-Quddus to me has the best ball skills and anticipation of all of them. Abdul-Quddus needs to work on his tackling and run support, big time, but at this point I'll take a playmaking safety that needs to refine his tackling (IAQ) over a tackler that will never learn instincts (Jenkins).