With the 27th pick in Round 1 of the 2014 NFL draft, the Arizona Cardinals selected strong safety Deone Bucannon out of Washington State. General manager Steve Keim worked a trade with the New Orleans Saints, giving them the 20th pick and receiving Nos. 27 and 91 (Round 3).
Bucannon is a perfect fit in Arizona's elite defense and upgrades the safety spot immediately. Former fourth-round pick Rashad Johnson may still find the field early during the 2014 season, but only if Tyrann Mathieu misses games while recovering from knee surgery.
"Not only do we feel like we fill a specific need, we fill it with a player who we've targeted for quite some time." Steve Keim #CardsDraft— Adam Green (@theAdamGreen) May 9, 2014
Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles has to be happy about his secondary right now. Bucannon will step in and provide solid run support as an in-the-box safety while also being able to cover athletic tight ends all over the field.
While at Washington State, he notched 384 total tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and one sack in four seasons in the Pac-12.
CBSSports.com had this to say about Bucannon:
First-team All-American whose dependability near the line of scrimmage with 78 solo tackles (tied for 11th in the country) and three forced fumbles and in coverage -- six interceptions -- underscores his all-around ability.
Bucannon's ideal size, hard-hitting style and fierce competitive nature are exactly what teams seek safety. However, his limited flexibility and poor awareness and reaction time in coverage are measured shortcomings.
He will need to get better at covering deep, but that's not how he will be used in Arizona. Covering the flats and roaming near the line of scrimmage is his game, and it will be made possible once Mathieu is back and able to cover deep as the starting free safety.
Bucannon joins Mathieu, Patrick Peterson and Antonio Cromartie to create a highly skilled and athletic defensive back end in Arizona. It's unknown if Cromartie will re-sign after the 2014 season, but for now, this group is ferocious. It is a force to be reckoned with and appears to closely resemble the Seattle Seahawks' feared secondary.