The first inkling Kenny Vaccaro had that he'd wind up becoming a New Orleans Saint came at the end of a whirlwind of visits the former standout Texas safety had with NFL teams.

During that visit to New Orleans more than a week ago, Vaccaro and new Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan hit it off. Over lunch they bonded, discussing football strategies, while discovering they were somewhat kindred spirits.

It was then that Vaccaro told Ryan: "I'd love to play for him," Vaccaro said.

The Saints, who picked Vaccaro in the first round with the 15th pick Thursday, were obviously courting Vaccaro much longer.

Having had three of their top five targets pickd before their 15th pick, the Saints jumped at the chance to take Vaccaro, Saints Coach Sean Payton said.

"We are excited we were able to get a player we had put in our cloud and spent a lot of time on," Payton said. "With Kenny clearly he's a guy we felt very comfortable with."

In drafting Vaccaro, the Saints continued to revamp their secondary, which was abused last season by opposing receivers and tight ends.

The 6-foot, 214-pound Vaccaro, an All-Big 12 selection, was widely considered the best safety in this year's draft class. Vaccaro is the first safety taken in the first round by the Saints.

"I'm excited to come down there and play," Vaccaro said. "It was my last visit and I had a good feeling coming out of there that I would be a Saint. I'm excited to get down there and play good football.

"The Saints showed interest the whole time. The visit went really well for me."