INDIANAPOLIS — Kenny Vaccaro knows which teams have a need for the top prospect at safety, and if the University of Texas star has his way, hell be making Dallas his home.Vaccaro confirmed Sunday the Cowboys have invited him to Valley Ranch for an official visit.While draft analysts have focused on the offensive and defensive lines for Dallas at No. 18, Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones said last week the team also has an eye on the safety position.Cowboys safeties Barry Church and Matt Johnson were injured most of last season. Church, who tore his right Achilles tendon against Tampa Bay, could be a box safety in Monte Kiffins Tampa 2 defense. Dallas is looking for a playmaker on the back end, whether thats Gerald Sensabaugh, Johnson or a draft choice.Sensabugh, with a $3 million cap number, could be released as the Cowboys try to whittle $21 million off their salary cap to get under the projected limit of $122 million.The Cowboys likely cant afford a free agent safety, so they will have to use the draft to get help at the position.If there is a need on defense, to me, the biggest need is going to be safety, Jones said. Youve got Church coming off an Achilles, and obviously we really like everything we saw in Matt Johnson other than he couldnt get healthy. We still dont know about him, but we like him a lot and we would still spend a fourth-round pick on him, if not higher, knowing what we know. But when youve got two young guys coming off injuries, you cant count on that.Though only five safeties have been selected in the first round in the past seven drafts, Vaccaro might be worth a top choice. Some scouts rate him higher than Texas Earl Thomas was in 2010 when the Seahawks made him the 14th overall selection.Vaccaro isnt likely to go as high as Eric Berry went when the Chiefs used the fifth overall choice on him in 2010 or as high as Mark Barron went last year when the Bucs made him the seventh overall choice. But Vaccaro might not last for the Cowboys at No. 18 either.Vaccaro is the one that the more tape I watched, the more I liked him, NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said. They played him closer to the line of scrimmage this year. He covered a bunch of slots this year. Watching him cover Tavon Austin at West Virginia thats rare. In todays world, thats rare and its important.I think his coverage ability is quick feet. Hes tough as nails. He tackles. It looks on tape like he loves the game. I have trouble thinking hes going to get past 15 or 20, even though safeties dont go that high. I think hell be gone in the first 15 picks.Vaccaro was given a second-round grade last year by the NFL Advisory Committee, but he chose to return to Texas for his senior season. He improved his draft stock with a career-high 107 tackles.Im versatile, the 6-foot, 214-pounder said. I understand concepts. I think I can line guys up. I can be a quarterback of the defense and bring that athleticism on the back end.
Charean Williams, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @NFLCharean