NFL Mock Draft 2013: Will the Patriots select Kenny Vaccaro?

Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE

The safety out of Texas could help the Patriots' secondary.

The New England Patriots are still alive and kicking in the playoffs, but it's never too early to think about April's NFL Draft.

At NEPatriotsDraft.com, James Christensen thinks the Patriots will draft Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro with the late first round draft pick:

Imagine a sub-package of Alfonzo Dennard, Aqib Talib at corner, Kenny Vaccaro at "star", with Devin McCourty and Tavon Wilson/Pat Chung/Steve Gregory at safety. Excited? Vaccaro hits like a linebacker, covers like a corner, and competes like a perfect combination of Tom Brady and Rodney Harrison. Vaccaro's ability to play as a slot corner as well as both safety positions gives him a leg up in the crowded Patriots defensive backfield. Phillip Thomas from Fresno State is also a strong option here, along with a WR or DE.

Vaccaro could fit, as the Patriots have had problems with their safety play this year. Strong safety Patrick Chung has been injured a lot this season, while free safety Steve Gregory has also seen time on the shelf. Devin McCourty was moved from cornerback to safety late in the season and played well, but will Bill Belichick want to keep his former first round pick there, or move him back to the corner position?

Talib helped the cornerbacks with his acquistion late in the season, but he's an unrestricted free agent after this season. Vaccaro could help the Patriots' cornerback depth, playing in nickle or dime packages, if necessary.

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