There's been a groundswell of support for Kenny Vaccaro lately. The Texas safety is a ballplayer, there's no doubt. I'll disagree with him being the pick at 14 in a second.
But part of the backing on that was that supposedly the Panthers would've picked Alabama safety Mark Barron at 9, had he not gone before Carolina to Tampa. I even remember hearing that myself, right before Tampa's pick. I didn't believe it.
I feel right not to, now. Ron Rivera, talking on WFNZ, denies that with Mark Barron. More to the point, he states that Luke Kuechly was their target, followed by Quentin Coples. Rivera singles out Coples to play 3 technique, which I find interesting. Obviously he would've played 5 technique as well, in 3-4 sets; he would've moved around. You could probably have found him at LDE some, as well. Coples, a UNC alum and local kid, was the major focus of people in this area around the draft - and looking back at my own nonsense here, it's clear that it was an ideal of picking him or not picking him, moreso than much about anyone else. I didn't see Kuechly coming, though certainly you can't be unhappy with it.
For what it's worth, Coples was a decent starter last year, and he had 5.5 sacks for the Jets (though 1.5 came against SD, 2 against IND, so there wasn't consistent pressure). No idea how he'd have done at 3 technique, though Carolina did just fine with Dwan Edwards.
So, now, onto Vaccaro.
Barron was a part of a top run defense for Tampa; he was a part of one of the worst pass defenses in Tampa. He shut down Carolina's run; he also let them have yards when they needed it in the air. Vaccaro isn't Barron, but he's similar. He's a decent box defender and run guy, who's not great deep right now and doesn't have a ton of experience back there. He's not a FS-style player. He's not a ballhawk. It's obviously important that players not only be Deon Grant, and given the choice, most coaches would as rather have the run support guy. But this is at 14, and I don't know about that flawed a guy that high.
Given the choice of him, versus the corners there (Dee Milliner gone as expected, you might get a shot at the long, lean Xavier Rhodes. After that, it's muddied, but the big Rhodes on the outside would definitely be the cornerstone of a revamped secondary.