The Arizona Cardinals surprised a lot of people with their selection of Deone Bucannon, but the more you think about it, the more it makes sense.
He’s big. He’s fast. He’s a leader and he was productive at Washington State.
So perhaps it should come as no surprise that the selection is being praised.
Here’s a sampling of what the pundits are saying:
I wasn’t very familiar with Bucannon before the draft, aside from knowing he was a likely second-round pick. After watching a little more of him since the Cardinals made their pick, it’s easy to see what Steve Keim envisioned. Bucannon is a punisher. He’s a sturdy 210 pounds and isn’t afraid to come down into the box.
Arizona quietly brought in Antonio Cromartie this offseason as its complement to Patrick Peterson at cornerback. With Bucannon at strong safety and Tyrann Mathieu roaming the field at the other safety spot, the Cardinals could have one excellent secondary. This is a team that already had the second-best defensive DVOA in the league last year. If I wanted to nitpick, I’d say it still needs another pass-rusher, but that’s really the only hole left on this defense. The two best defenses in the NFL resided in the NFC West last year, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it happen again.
Why did the Arizona Cardinals target a safety at No. 27 overall? Here’s one way that Washington State’s Deone Bucannon might be able to help right away: Defending tight ends when the Cardinals blitz.
Last season, the Cardinals sent an extra pass-rusher more frequently than any other NFL team (49.6 percent of opponents’ dropbacks). But that aggressiveness came with a price. Opposing quarterbacks had a 96.0 Total Quarterback Rating (QBR) on passes thrown to tight ends when facing a blitz, including 12 touchdown passes and no interceptions, fourth-worst in the league.
Buccanon measured 6-foot-1, 211 pounds, at the NFL scouting combine, the kind of size you would hope helps him match up against NFL tight ends.
The skinny: A few folks will consider this a reach, but Bucannon was going to be the third safety off the board, anyway, and he goes to a spot where he could start from Day 1. Plus, in the NFC West, you need a hard-hitting defense, and Bucannon is a thumper.
One team that wasn’t sending out smokescreens: Arizona. They had a chance to draft Manziel and they passed. They had a chance to take Bridgewater at No. 27 after trading down, and they passed. It’s Carson Palmer’s world, and it’s an impressive looking secondary in Arizona after they added underrated hitter Deone Bucannon.
Although the Cardinals passed over a few players thought to be perfect fits on defense, Bucannon fills a need for Arizona at safety. He’s 6-foot-1, 211 pounds and has the length and speed to cover tight ends, which were thorns in Arizona’s side all last season. He has an opportunity to come in and compete for a starting job as a rookie.
They had to get a safety to upgrade the back end. He’s a good football player who will hit you. I like Jimmie Ward more, but that’s nitpicking.