It’s not much of a secret at this point that Deone Bucannon, the Arizona Cardinals’ first-round pick in last week’s NFL Draft, is known as an imposing defender.
Listed at 6-foot-1 and almost 220 pounds, the safety drafted with the No. 27 overall pick out of Washington State brings a level of physicality and intimidation that the Cardinals’ secondary may have lacked last year.
Just ask ESPN college football analyst and Seattle radio host Brock Huard, who watched plenty of Bucannon’s career with the Cougars.
“What you’re getting is one nasty dude,” Huard told Burns & Gambo on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM on Thursday.
“You want to talk about some of the hardest hits in all of college football, put on Deone Bucannon’s reel. He’s one of those rare guys. Arizona is getting one heck of a tackler in the back end.”
Huard said that Bucannon is a perfect fit in the physical, run-heavy NFC West. The San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks ran the ball more than anyone else in the NFL, and Bucannon could fill a role missing from one of the league’s best defenses last year.
Huard added that Bucannon’s hitting style — he noted that Bucannon isn’t a headhunter, rather just a gifted hitter — should transition quickly to the NFL, which has placed an emphasis on regulating jarring hits in the past several years.
But while Bucannon offers a threatening defender over the middle, his coverage skills may need work.
“He’ll never be a guy you want on any kind of a slot receiver or a really good pass-catching tight end,” Huard said. “Washington State did the best they could to put him in favorable situations, and that was near the line.
“Cane he cover the deep third? Can he play a zone? Is he highly athletic? He is. But you try to cover one-on-one, that’s not going to be a strength.”
Still, Huard said that Bucannon has displayed the type of intangibles that teams look for when attempting to quantify a prospect’s ability to improve in areas of weakness.
“You talk about a high character guy through the bad and ugly,” Huard said of Bucannon’s career with some bad WSU teams. “He gave everything, and that’s not easy to do.
“To not be demoralized, to be there week-in and week-out, to be a captain, that speaks volumes. This guy loves to play football. He loves to play the game, and he loves to hurt people.”