New Orleans Saints 2013: Kenny Vaccaro to Replace Malcolm Jenkins, Not Roman Harper?

Ezra Shaw

When the Saints drafted Kenny Vaccaro in the 2013 NFL Draft most assumed Roman Harper was on his way out. But is the plan to replace Malcolm Jenkins instead?

Just what position will Kenny Vaccaro be playing for the Saints?

I thought we were all pretty much in agreement that Vaccaro would be playing strong safety. Everything I've read since he was drafted 15th overall by the Saints last month says he'll be playing strong safety. Not free safety.

But maybe we're all wrong.

Malcolm Jenkins sure isn't sold. Speaking at a Lemonade Day Louisiana function this past Saturday, Jenkins admitted the drafting of Vaccaro meant his job was in jeopardy, not necessarily Harper's.

Both The Advocate and NFL.com had the story.

When the New Orleans Saints used their first-round draft pick last week to select free safety Kenny Vaccaro, Malcolm Jenkins knew he had been put on notice.

How could he not? Jenkins was the Saints' starting free safety last season. Vaccaro's arrival was a clear sign that Jenkins was heading to a backup role...or worse.

Malcolm Jenkins said he embraced the Saints' first-round selection of Kenny Vaccaro - despite the threat to his job security at free safety - after recalling Mark Ingram's less-than-cordial welcome to the franchise by former teammate Reggie Bush.

So does that mean Vaccaro will be playing free safety instead? What will happen to Jenkins? And is Roman Harper's job safe? I'm so scared and confused. Hold me!

At this point I think anything is possible so we shouldn't allow ourselves to get boxed into one scenario or another. We could potentially see a few different looks for the Saints secondary in 2013.

In their base formation the Saints could have Vaccaro play free or strong safety, meaning Jenkins and Harper are both at risk of becoming the odd man out. In the nickel formation, I expect to see all three of them out there at the same time because both Jenkins and Vaccaro have the ability and experience to defend in the slot.

Payton likes that Vaccaro has shown the ability to defend slot receivers as a nickel back, as he often did against spread offenses in college. This past week, general manager Mickey Loomis addressed the possibility of having Jenkins, Vaccaro and strong safety Roman Harper on the field simultaneously.

Before the draft, when we were talking about different scenarios," Loomis said on WWL Radio, "one of the scenarios was that Malcolm could move into the nickel position because he has done that before and he does have good coverage skills.

So I wouldn't throw that going away party for Roman Harper just yet. He may have his flaws but he's also got his talents. He's a thumper and he's great on the blitz. And when Roman Harper is doing Roman Harper things, he can be a valuable commodity. It's simply a matter of maximizing those opportunities.

But both he and Jenkins should definitely be on high alert. Because we know for certain that Sean Payton and Rob Ryan will put the best 11 players out there on the field. So if Kenny Vaccaro shines, then Jenkins and Harper could both be at risk of seeing their playing time reduced.

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