TEMPE, Ariz. — Deone Bucannon is used to having his name mispronounced.
“Either way, having it said in a big stage like this, it doesn’t matter,” he said Friday.
Bucannon joked that he wished there was a story behind his unorthodox name, but alas, there is none.
“Then I could have some backup for it like ‘this is why,’ but it’s just a random name.”
There was nothing random about him being the newest Arizona Cardinal.
Selected with the 27th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Bucannon comes to the Cardinals as someone who is not only expected to be a quality football player, but also fill one of the team’s biggest needs.
Last season, the Cardinals struggled defending their opponents’ tight ends seemingly on a weekly basis, and the 6-foot-1, 211-pound safety who ran a 4.49 40-yard dash is expected to help fix that problem.
“He should be a perfect matchup for that,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said Thursday after the pick was made. “That’s one of the things going into it, we were looking for someone that not only was a box hitter, because our division is very physical, but also could cover, and not just cover tight ends — cover slot receivers.”
And, of course, dish out some big hits along the way.
While Bucannon understands having a reputation for being a “head hunter” is not necessarily a good thing, especially when it comes to potential personal foul penalties and possible fines and suspensions, he knows his style of play is why the Cardinals wanted him and doesn’t plan on changing.
“I’m not going to sacrifice any of what got me here, is through my aggressiveness and playmaking ability,” he said. “I’m going to still do that on the field. But I was telling people earlier, I wouldn’t want to take away this game that I love so much from somebody else (by) being dumb.
“That’s not what I’m going to do. I’m going to be a professional about it, but I’m also going to be aggressive and I’m going to bring something to this team that the coaching staff and the people in the front office see in me.”
What the Cardinals see in Bucannon is someone with good head on his shoulders, which could be expected having been raised in a military family, and good leadership qualities, which were evident in him helping lead Wasington State to its first bowl appearance since 2003 last season.
In 2013, he was the team’s leading tackler with 114 and tallied six interceptions, which were the most by a Cougar since 2003. He’s also the first Washington State product to be selected in the draft’s first round since Marcus Trufant, who was picked 11th overall by the Seattle Seahawks that same year.
Needless to say, Bucannon was not exactly part of a college football powerhouse.
In large part because of where he attended college, Bucannon flew under the draft radar. It was nothing new for him, as he noted only four schools offered him a scholarship out of high school, and he’ll have no trouble using this as extra motivation.
“I’m going to go out there and prove to them, I’m going to show why I’m out here on the field,” he said. “I want to be a pro — not want to be, I’m going to be a pro. This is what I live to do. I’m going to come in here and work hard and I’m going to do what it takes.”
Besides his obvious physical tools, that mentality had to appeal to the Cardinals.
“Throughout this process we meet a lot of great young men with impressive stories throughout their journey to get here, but none of those stories are more impressive than Deone Bucannon,” Cardinals GM Steve Keim said. “His size, his physicality, his work ethic, his passion for the game. All those things give us great belief that he is going to have a tremendous career here in Arizona.”
It has not yet officially begun, but if winning the press conference counts for anything, Bucannon is sporting an unblemished record. And he can’t wait to get started with his new team, which is one he said he pointed out during the pre-draft process as one he’d like to play for.
“I went on about 20 total visits,” he said. “I told my mom, this is a team I pointed out because when I was at dinner they were not only talking to me as a player, but as a person. They cared about me on the field but they also cared about what I did off the field.
“We were just talking about life. It wasn’t just football, it wasn’t just what can’t you do, what can you do, what can you do for our team, things like that. It was what kind of person are you, how do you fit into this organization?”
The rookie added he felt the same way about the Cardinals as they clearly do about him, and he’s looking forward to getting to know his new teammates and making some plays.
“I haven’t had a chance to talk with any of my new teammates, but I’ve seen on social media that they’ve supported me, they’ve shouted me out, they tell me that it’s time to work,” he said. “They’re great players, the supporting cast. It speaks for itself. Tyrann Mathieu, Patrick Peterson, (Antonio) Cromartie — those are all three Pro Bowl players.
“I want to come in the mix and I want to fit right in, that’s what I want to do. I want to come in, fit right in and I want to show them what kind of player I am.”