When the Arizona Cardinals made the surprising draft selection of Washington State safety Deone Bucannon late in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, they knew what they were getting: a physical, intimidating presence on defense.
And months later, defensive coordinator Todd Bowles has assessed his player as just that — adding to an already deep Cardinals defense.
A guest of Bickley and Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Wednesday, Bowles spoke highly of the Cougars product, allowing some excitement for the player’s development to be heard in his vocal inflections.
When asked which of the defensive unit’s younger players has been most impressive so far in training camp, the coordinator didn’t hesitate.
“Obviously Bucannon,” he began, “because he’s learning quite a few spots right now and I think he’s handling it quite well. I still don’t think we’ve seen the finished product quite yet, as we shouldn’t at this point in the year.”
One part of the game Bowles hoped he’d see develop mentally was actually the physicality Bucannon brings.
“If he’s hitting the right person, it helps the defense a great deal, but he has to learn a lot first,” he said. “Deone’s a hitter, but he has to be smart about who he’s hitting. Coming in, there’s a little hesitancy, because all rookies have to learn and that slows their game down a little bit.”
But once the learning sinks in and the knowledge cramming of camp is no more, Bucannon’s coordinator believes he’ll be firing on all cylinders.
“As he gets more confident and as he gets the system down a little more, I think his play and the things he does will start to show a little more,” Bowles said.