After months of waiting, the NFL Draft finally arrived Thursday.
Nineteen teams made their picks and the Arizona Cardinals were on the clock at No. 20. Of course, the Cardinals opted to trade down, swinging a deal with the New Orleans Saints to acquire the 27th overall pick and an additional third-round selection (91st overall).
General manager Steve Keim says that was all part of the team’s plan.
“Michael Bidwill and I spend a lot of time talking about strategy, we felt like we had our board set up perfectly,” Keim told Doug and Wolf Friday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “We looked at it from the standpoint, once we get to Player X, we feel like we could potentially trade back, acquire an additional pick, which was our goal all along, and still not compromise the player that we wanted.”
That player is Washington State safety Deone Bucannon, whom the Cardinals snatched up with the 27th pick.
“We love his size, his athleticism, his physicality is something that drew us to him,” Keim said. “You see him in the alley and the way he hits, you see his ball skills — he had six interceptions last year and 15 in his career — so he knows how to get his hands on balls and track and adjust down the field.
“Athletically, when you look at the kid, comparing him to the other safeties in this draft, this guy was second to none.”
So how did a player of Bucannon’s ilk fall all the way near the bottom of the first round? His surroundings may have led to him being overlooked. In his four years in Pullman, Washington State went 15-34 and their defense never ranked higher than 81st in the country.
“The fact that he played at Washington State and they haven’t had a lot of success there as a team, maybe had him a little under the radar,” Keim said. “But he wasn’t under the radar with us.”