Overview: During his career at Washington State, Deone Bucannon has posted some truly impressive numbers. He was all over the field during his college years, and his 384 tackles and 15 interceptions are both among the best in Cougar’s history. As a senior in 2013, Bucannon led the Pac-12 in tackles with 114 and tied for the conference lead with 6 interceptions to go along with 4.5 tackles for loss and 3 forced fumbles. His stellar play his senior year earned him first team All-American honors in addition to being voted first team All-Pac-12.
- Exceptional tackler. Best tackler in this year’s safety class, hands down. Strikes as hard as Calvin Pryor, but with better form. Truly seeks to punish ball carriers.
- Aggressive in both run support and coverage. Once he makes his read, there is zero hesitation. He’s either charging downhill to fill a running lane or flying to wherever the ball is thrown.
- Playmaker. Constantly around the ball. Has a knack for being in the right place at the right time and knows what to do when the ball gets there. No beating around the bush on this one; he just makes plays.
- Ideal measurements for the position. At 6-1, 211 lbs. he looks like a strong safety some team grew in a lab.
- Accomplished special teams player. Extensive special teams work in multiple areas. Led the team with 7 special teams stops as a senior.
- Takes poor angles at times. Whether it’s against the run or the pass, he just doesn’t seem to judge the opposing player’s speed very well, resulting in him ending up behind the ball carrier.
- Struggles to anticipate/shed blocks. Seems surprised to be blocked far too often, and once he gets blocked he stays that way for too long.
- Man coverage limitations. You don’t want to ask him to cover Jimmy Graham or a wide receiver in the slot very often, but those aren’t ideal matchups for any safety.
- Freelances too much. Needs to know his coverage assignments better.
NFL Player Comparison: Bernard Pollard, Tennessee Titans. The physical comparisons are fairly obvious here, but I also think Bucannon will develop into a similar player to what Pollard was early in his career. Pollard was an aggressive downhill hard-hitting safety with an old school demeanor when he was with the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans. He also wasn’t a complete liability in coverage. While the 6 interceptions Bucannon got in his senior year might be a bit steep to expect of him in any single NFL season, I think he will contribute in other ways and maybe even make a Pro Bowl or two.
The Way I See It: Bucannon is my favorite safety in this draft class, no question. His flaws are coachable and his dominant physical traits are undeniable. This guy has a lot of upside and, with his special teams background, has a very reasonable floor. In fact, I like him so much that I have difficulty seeing him making it all the way to the Bears’ second round pick at 51. He could even sneak into the tail end of the first round. The Bears may have to trade up if they want Bucannon this may, but I think I’d be okay with that.