This is by no stretch the league. This is not the draft, this is not a guarantee of success. The NFL combine is effectively an exercise in tire kicking by NFL front offices. 40 times, vertical leap, and size are all reported by players and their schools, but the NFL has set up this exhibition to confirm reported information.
Imagine if you liked the look of a Honda Element, big, roomy, a nice tweener, and the manufacturer claimed it pulled 0-60 in 2.5 seconds. That seems strange to you, are you going to take the manufacturer’s word for it, or take it for a test drive? Exactly, that is what the NFL will be doing through Tuesday. Players and Universities can report 4.2 40, 45 bench reps and a 40 inch vertical, but that does not mean much until they are evaluated by the NFL as a whole. Players are exposed for who they are this weekend, shelters have been removed, for the interim, they are alone.
300 some odd players will be at the combine, 250 or so will be drafted in May. The sole representative from Pullman in Indianapolis this weekend is Deone Bucannon. The question is, what can he do for himself while on display? Plenty.
Deone’s perceived weaknesses are all fixable. If there is concern about his ability to play man or zone (as has been reported by many sites) is a concern, that can be fixed by coaches. Additionally, concern about over pursuit is also a tendency that can be untaught. The real factor is that he got to the ball, wherever it might arrive field wide. In case you forgot what Bucannon looked like in Crimson, here is a short highlight film. He will be missed, but more importantly, this is the type of player every NFL Defensive Coordinator will want on their roster.
27 years of WSU defensive backs in the NFL will be continued next season with Bucannon taking his place with the long line of DBs from Wazzu. This phenomenon deserves its own column, but rest assured this trend will continue. Through the Price years these guys practiced against a barrage of passing legends, something that Leach will obviously continue, allowing these three star recruits to mature into NFL draft picks.
Bucannon raised his cache at the senior bowl last month, arriving in such good shape that he shamed many of his peers. Deone has honed his body to a perfect DB machine, strong, intimidating, and assured. His speed may not prove mind blowing, but if he can establish top line quickness, that may be less of a concern. If he trains and digests film at a voracious level, he will prove instrumental to someone’s defensive plans in 2014.
Set your DVRs, folks, for 6 am Pacific on Tuesday. That is the 5 hour block where we can see Deone perform for scouts. The DVR is not a joke. Unless you are truly missing football in an unquenchable way, the combine is like monitoring your grass length while simultaneously checking the dampness of paint. The scoring is less arbitrary than Olympic Figure Skating, but the public viewing opportunity is only for tangible factors; the interviews behind the scenes are probably larger indicators for where a player will be picked than fractions of a second in the 40.
Deone arrived in Indy yesterday, and his twitter feed has been silent. This is time to be quiet and contemplative. He is talking with teams who are interested (NFL GMs, if you aren’t interested in a hard hitting DB with a chip on his shoulder, you did not pay attention to the league last season), and developing a temporary fan base among DCs. Bucannon is showing the intangible, the leadership; he is showing the nation why he was so beloved in the Land of Wheat and Lentils.
One Auburn fan posted on ESPN that he felt that Bucannon was the best Safety that Auburn faced in 2014, and that he became an instant fan when he saw the joy that Deone plays with. That is what will make him a fixture in the league, the joy that comes from a hard hitting safety who crashes the ball. That joy is infectious and will mature into the type of leadership that will never be measured by drills.
Whomever selects Deone in May will appear as a cat with canary feathers hanging from its mouth. He will be a steal wherever he lands. The first time Deone annihilates a tailback in the League, GMs will be slapping themselves in the forehead wondering what went wrong in the scouting process. This young man is special, and we can not wait to see him thrive in the NFL.
Good Luck on Tuesday, Deone, and Go Cougs!