Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim didn’t mince words when describing first-round pick Deone Bucannon’s rather aggressive playing style.
“The guy is a head hunter,” Keim told the media Thursday night. “He’s extremely physical. I don’t want to mention him in the same breath as Adrian Wilson, but there are some similarities and the same kind of mentality we were looking for.”
Being compared to Wilson before even playing a down of professional football is quite high praise for Bucannon, although in a progressive league that continues to enforce player safety, the label of ‘head hunter’ is somewhat troublesome.
While lauded for being one of the hardest-hitting safeties in the 2014 draft class, the No. 27 overall pick did face his fair share of discipline during his collegiate career in Pullman.
In 2012, Bucannon was suspended by the Pac-12 for the first half of a non-conference contest against UNLV for an illegal hit he levied against wide receiver Greg Herd (see video below from :32-1:02) a week prior in Washington State’s season opener.
In 2013, he again found himself in a little bit of hot water, after launching himself helmet-first at Auburn Tigers running back Corey Grant. Bucannon was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and the eventual SEC champions were able to tack on an additional three points in a 31-24 victory.
Yet only a few hours on the job in Arizona, Bucannon admits that he’ll need to harness that reckless nature in order to stay on the field for the Cardinals.
“It didn’t come up at all [in the pre-draft meeting with the Cardinals],” Bucannon told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s Bickley and Marotta Friday. “They were just talking about how they love my aggression. But at the same time, I’m fully aware of the rules and the concussion aware that exists in this league.
“I’ve always said that I would never want to take away this game that I love so much from somebody else. That would be selfish. So, that’s why I’m going to make the proper adjustments.”
The Pac-12’s leading tackler from a season ago might tinker with the way he conducts business from the safety position, but don’t expect him to change the style that’s earned him a chance to play in the NFL.
“I can be aggressive within the rules,” said Bucannon. “That’s fine with me. But at the same time, if you’re coming over the middle and coming over reckless, I’m going to hit you. But, I’m going to hit you within the guidelines of the NFL.”