Deone Bucannon is the ideal Atlanta Falcons free safety in Mike Nolan’s scheme. It would explain why they showed a ton of interest in him during the Senior Bowl, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s D. Orlando Ledbetter.
Bucannon would have to be an instant starter at free safety if they drafted him because the Falcons are currently missing a starting free safety after the Thomas DeCoud cut. The Washington State Cougar is very athletic and should be a Day 2 pick on Atlanta’s board.
Washington State University
Height: 6'1"; Weight: 211 pounds
Arm Length: 32.375"; Hand Measurement: 9.75"
40-yard dash: 4.49 sec.; 10-yard split: 1.54 sec.
20-yard shuttle: 4.26 sec.; 3-cone Drill: 6.96 sec. Bench Reps: 19 reps
Vertical Jump: 36.5"; Broad Jump: 10'5"
2013: 13 Games Played, 114 Tackles, 4.5 Tackles for Loss, 6 Interceptions, 3 Fumbles Forced, 1 Pass Deflection
2012: 12 Games Played, 106 Tackles, 2.5 Tackles for Loss, 1.0 Sack, 4 Interceptions, 1 Fumble Forced, 4 Pass Deflections
2011: 12 Games Played, 80 Tackles, 2.0 Tackles for Loss, 3 Interceptions, 1 Fumble Forced, 4 Pass Deflections, 1 Blocked Kick
2010: 12 Games Played, 83 Tackles, 4.0 Tackles for Loss, 2 Interceptions, 1 Fumble Forced, 5 Pass Deflections
Bucannon is a great fit for the free safety role in Atlanta. He’s a playmaker when the ball is in the air and isn’t afraid to hit anyone. This forces receivers to make sure they are aware of his presence over the middle. His hits are jarring, and he has a tendency to knock balls loose with them.
He’s shown an ability in man coverage that past Falcons safeties just don’t have—he can legitimately cover a tight end. He’s also used to compensating for much worse talent around him than the Falcons have. He could be a dangerous safety in the NFL in Atlanta’s scheme.
Sometimes he’ll misdiagnose where a route is going, and it hurts his zone-coverage abilities. He’s likely able to play the deep third, but asking him to play a Cover 1 umbrella over the entire defense is asking him to do too much.
While he does time well, he isn’t the most instinctual player out there, and it shows in his deep coverages. He also needs to learn how to use his hands when engaging blockers. He tends to get tied up way too easily.
How does he fit the Comrade Filter?
While he was never arrested, Bucannon was suspended for half of a game during his Cougars career. It was due to a targeting situation. However, because it wasn’t an off-the-field problem, Atlanta shouldn’t care about it and won't have it hurt him for Comrade filter purposes.
Especially since Bucannon was elected team captain for 14 games between his junior and senior seasons at Washington State. The Falcons love players who are team captains and should enjoy having another leader back in the final stages of defense with William Moore.
Bucannon is the perfect fit for what Atlanta needs. While other safeties may be better in the deep third, they aren’t the intimidating hitter Bucannon is. Atlanta is the perfect situation for him based on scheme and surrounding talent, too.
He’ll be surrounded by Moore, Sean Weatherspoon and Desmond Trufant if he plays free safety. It’d allow him to roam a good bit when everyone is healthy. He could be a tremendous playmaker in the NFL if he doesn’t have to carry the show.
How he would fit into the Falcons' plans
If the Falcons want to bring in Bucannon, they will likely have to take him in the second or third round of May’s draft. He would be an instant starter for them no matter where he is picked, because he would be the best free safety on the team from the second he’s drafted.
While Washington State used Bucannon in a variety of ways, Atlanta will be trying to let him roam the field so that he can make plays. Bucannon could be a missing piece to the pass defense that didn’t force many fumbles or intercept many passes in 2014. Because he’s a playmaker who creates turnovers.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, College Football, NFL and the NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.