Especially in their secondary, the Arizona Cardinals prefer players who can do multiple things, and few personify this deal more than Deone Bucannon. Chosen as a safety in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Bucannon has since evolved into more of a linebacker, and is seen as a hybrid-type of player who can excel all over the field.
Keim and the Cardianls hope the team will have similar success with fifth-rounder Marqui Christian from Midwestern State. Christian was named the nation’s top small-college defensive player, and according to his college coach, will if nothing else, work hard for his new team.
“The kid is determined, he’s prideful, he wants it and he’s committed,” Midwestern State Head Coach Bill Maskill told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Monday morning. “He’s going to do what’s asked of him, and I think his future has a lot of growth in front of him. I know when he played in the NFL Players Union Bowl out there in Los Angeles, he felt that he competed with kids from Division-1 schools. We’re awfully proud of him, because of how he’s grown and developed within the program.”
Christian’s mentality is one that served him well in college, and Maskill believes it will translate well in the NFL. And while he is not as big as Bucannon, his role with the Cardinals can be similar to the former Washington State star’s.
“He’s a fierce competitor, he loves to practice just as much as he loves to play the game,” Maskill added. “He doesn’t know any speed, except one speed. I know when the scouts were here for pro day, they indicated to him the same thing Marqui indicated to us, that they play a lot of safeties and that they put them in the box and move them around. I think he’s had some experience doing that. He’s a good tackler, he’ll be a good special teams guy and we’re really excited about his opportunity out there in Arizona.”
Christian, who as Midwestern State’s all-time leading tackler with 295 total tackles during his collegiate career, figures to play more in the secondary, according to the Cardinals, but will not necessarily be limited to the back end of the defense and Maskill thinks Christian has the ability to play down in the box if the team asks him to.
“He played at about 208 this year, his junior year he was at about 196,” Maskill explained. “They measured him here on Pro Day at 5-foot-10 and 205 pounds. When I think of the box and you’re looking at those offensive linemen that are 6-foot-5 and 350 pounds and here’s a guy who’s 210 pounds he’s going to be mismatched, but he’s instinctive, he plays with pad level and he’s not afraid to take on big bodies.”
Maskill added that as Christian developed a wider skill set, Midwestern State played him in different areas of the field.
“As he’s grown, his role has increased,” Maskill said. “We played him more in the middle of the field this year with the scheme we were using and it so happened that he was able to come downhill in the alley and run, and we brought him off the edge on the weak side.”
While it might be difficult for Christian to force his way into a prominent role in the secondary this season, he should at least add depth to an area where the Cardinals could use some.
“He’ll do whatever you ask him to do,” Maskill said. “He started for us midway through his freshman year. Starting in the secondary as a true freshman, I don’t care what level you’re at it’s not easy with all the things we do and anybody else does in the secondary plus all the things the offenses do. He played on all the special teams, he was a young pup at that time and he’s grown every year.”
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