Gil Brandt, one of the most well-respected football analysts in the business, has published his initial list of the Top 100 prospects in the 2013 NFL Draft. You should read it simply because it's by Brandt, but we wanted to point out one of his opinions pertaining to a player that Buffalo Bills fans should be discussing more often: Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro.
"I think he's every bit as good as Mark Barron, who was picked seventh overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012 and went on to have a very good rookie year," Brandt writes of Vaccaro. "The tough Vaccaro is athletic enough to cover the slot receiver; he never slows down."
Why is this interesting, you ask? Because the Bills were extremely high on Mark Barron in the 2012 NFL Draft. WGR 550's Joe Buscaglia reported late last April that the Bills were eyeing Barron and Stephon Gilmore with their No. 10 overall pick; we'll never know which player the team liked more - Barron was off the board before the Bills picked - but it stands to reason that they'd rate a safety with Barron's skill set highly again.
There are definitely similarities between Barron and Vaccaro, though the former was a more productive player in college (particularly in the interception department, where Barron's 12 dwarf Vaccaro's five): they're similarly sized (Barron was 6'1", 213 at last year's Combine, while Vaccaro is listed at 6'1", 218) with the versatility to both play the run and cover. Each has the type of size and athleticism that makes them somewhat rare commodities, in that they can support the run, play center field and, most importantly, drop down and cover slot receivers in an increasingly spread-happy NFL.
Clearly, whether or not the Bills will seriously consider Vaccaro with the No. 8 overall pick this year will depend on their own evaluation of him, and whether or not they compare him closely and favorably with Barron. (What happens at other positions will also obviously carry weight, as well.) But if Vaccaro is being compared to Barron, and the Bills were high on Barron, then we should be discussing Vaccaro more often, no?