When the Arizona Cardinals selected Deone Bucannon with the 27th pick in this year’s NFL Draft, they envisioned him as their version of another NFC West strong safety. Bucannon displays a striking resemblance to the All-Pro in the Pacific Northwest, Kam Chancellor. Chancellor is a member of the Super Bowl winning Seattle Seahawks and is now an experienced 4-year veteran in the league.
Bucannon enters the NFL with excellent strength and size, being listed at 6’1 and 211 pounds. Not only does he have the size, but he also has incredible closing speed on the field that allows for him to light up opposing receivers and backs. Sound familiar? Bucannon sometimes struggles with route recognition, but similar to Chancellor, his exceptional closing speed allows for him to make up for it in a thunderous way. The Cardinals now have a high-end box safety in their defense that is fully capable of not only playing the run, but also defending tight ends and the bigger slot receivers in the league.
At the NFL Combine, Bucannon surprised some scouts with his outstanding performance in the core events. Running a 4.40 40-yard-dash, 19 reps at 225 pounds bench press, 36.5 inch vertical leap, 10.5 inch broad jump and a 6.96 cone drill places him in the top four of all the categories among safeties in this year’s draft. He may have flown under the radar among fans and media, but after being drafted in the first round, he’s no longer a secret.
Jan 19, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis (85) is tackled by Seattle Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor (31) during the second half of the 2013 NFC Championship football game at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
In comparison to Chancellor, Bucannon actually outperformed the All-Pro in all of the categories above on the exception of the bench press. Where Chancellor’s 6’3 230 pound frame allowed for him to put up an impressive 22 reps on the bench press. With 19 reps, Bucannon is no scrub when it comes to the strength department. With his freak athletic abilities, Bucannon has an opportunity to develop into one of the most physical and athletic defensive backs in the National Football League.
Everyone knows the physicality in which this kid plays the game. As a hard-hitter, people tend to forget that Bucannon also has the uncanny ability of finding the ball. With 15 career interceptions in his four-year college career, it’s no secret that Bucannon has the unique ability to not only put fear in opposing receivers and backs, but also the quarterback. If he can translate these ball hawking skills to the NFL, he has the opportunity to etch his name alongside Chancellors as one of the best strong safeties in the game.
Bucannon likely benefited from the success of Kam Chancellor and the big physical Seattle Seahawk defensive backs that have brought a new style of play to the NFL. With a budding star at free safety in Tyron Mathieu, the Cardinals are set to have one of the most exciting and talented young safety tandems in the NFL. Of course, Arizona already has one of the best young corners in football in Patrick Peterson and the free agent signing of Antonio Cromartie gives the Cardinals a secondary that will rival the Seahawks in both size and talent.
Bucannon has the opportunity to become a centerpiece in one of the best defenses in the league. Arizona believes it struck gold with the selection of the former Washington State star. After the next couple seasons, I doubt they’ll be the only ones thinking so.