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Deone Bucannon States His Case as the Draft's No. 1 Overall Safety

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Deone Bucannon States His Case as the Draft's No. 1 Overall Safety

Washington State safety Deone Bucannon at the NFL Combine. Photo by Brian Carriveau of

INDIANAPOLIS––Coming into the NFL Combine, Deone Bucannon already thought he was the best safety in this year's draft class.

"I don't think there's anyone better than me," said Bucannon on Sunday, "but anybody would say that."

After the Washington State safety's performance in Tuesday's on-field workout, however, analysts might tend to agree.

Bucannon finished among the top four safeties in the 40-yard dash (4.49 seconds), bench press (19 repetitions), vertical jump (36.5 inches), broad jump (125 inches) and three-cone drill (6.96 seconds).

Furthermore, Bucannon put up better numbers in each of the afore-mentioned drills than both Calvin Pryor and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, two players generally considered the top pair of safety prospects. And not only did Bucannon put up better numbers than the highly-rated duo, he's also taller (6-1) and heavier (211 lbs.) than each of them too.

Basically, Bucannon was the star exhibit at the human physics experiment that is the Combine. It's far more impressive for a player with longer limbs and a heavier mass to move through space than players that are shorter and lighter.

Bucannon thinks his bigger frame gives him advantage over other safeties.

"It gives me more range around the field," said Bucannon. "I feel like I can get to places quicker than other people. I'm longer. I feel like I'd be able to get to the receiver, the running back. I feel like I'll be able to get there quicker than my respective competition."

One player Bucannon thinks he compares to in the NFL is Seattle Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor, and it has nothing to do with both playing their football in the state of Washington.

There are other similarities and parallels that can be drawn, according to former Packers safety Matt Bowen, currently a lead NFL writer for Bleacher Report.

"He reminds me, if you want a comparison––I'm not saying the same skill set but the same style of play––to Kam Chancellor," said Bowen. "He's going to be your guy that's not always in the box. I'll tell you this, there's no such thing as an in-the-box safety any more. That's Steve Atwater, that's guys like that back when we were growing up, 235 lb. safeties.

"Every safety has to be able to play in the run front, work back to the middle of the field and play the deep end, cover a tight end, and if they're in a zone blitz or man pressure, they might have to cover a slot from time to time. That's just part of the deal now. It's part of your résumé; it's part of your job requirement to play."

Bucannon is a versatile safety, one that's dropped down on the box and patrolled the deep end, played half-field and everything in between.

If Bucannon's measurables at the Combine aren't enough to convince observers that he's the best safety, maybe his statistics will. He made at least 80 tackles in each of his four years with the Cougars and made a combined 13.5 tackles for a loss, 15 interceptions, 23 passes broken up and seven forced fumbles over the course his college career.

For his efforts, Bucannon was named a first-team All-American by the Associated Press as well as first-team All-Pac 12, not bad coming from a program that qualified for its first bowl game in a decade this past season.

As far as Bucannon was concerned, there was little anxiety that it would be difficult to stand out for a traditionally moribund program on the Palouse.

"I wasn't worried about the NFL at the time," said Bucannon. "I was just worried about playing football for my team throughout my career. So I wasn't really thinking about the next level yet. It's always been a dream of mine, of course, something that I've always wanted to do.

"But the coaching staff there, they do such a great job of putting you in a position without you even knowing it for the next level. Just the little things, being on time for meetings, just things like that just form you into a better player and eventually a better pro."

If Bucannon is still on the board at No. 21 in the first round, and the Packers haven't addressed the need at safety in free agency, they'll have to seriously consider the Wazzu product.

As of Sunday, Bucannon said he hadn't formally met with the Packers at the Combine, but he may have by the time it concluded. He did confirm that he met with the Packers at the Senior Bowl, although it was just one of many interview with almost every NFL team.

Bucannon seems to have left a positive impression wherever he's gone, whether it's the Combine, his college playing days or an all-star game environment.

"I really liked him at the Senior Bowl, and this guy's big," said Bowen. "He might have been the biggest hitter in college football last year. The question about him is, can he play in space? And whenever someone says that––can he play in space?––they're trying to project that to the NFL level.

"If he struggles at times at the college level, wrapping up or breaking down in the open field, they're trying to project that against pro-level athletes. To fix that it takes repetition and time. I'm not saying if you draft Bucannon, he might not make every open-field tackle in Week 1, but you hope by the middle of the season, you got a guy who can play."

Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (33) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

al's picture

be nice but think he gone by #21

steven's picture

My favorite might be buchannon. Ladler is also interesting. Id still like to get pryor. Worst comes to worse we might get dix, or pryor because someone grabbed buchannon... also check out aaron donald. The guys is a freak of an athelete. Even compared to clowney. There both oozing with potential. The diffrence? It seems like donald wants it more. Didnt take plays off. Incredible motor, this guy will be a pro bowler his first year. Man i wish we would grab him.... he makes me want a 4-3 haha. They compared his forty to suh's and he destroyed him. Including his ten yard split

4thand1's picture

No wonder why its hard to find good to great safties. They have a ton of responsibility at the position. Either way the packers will be a hell of a lot better no matter who falls to them.

Jamie's picture

He's a field tilter IMO, which is why I like him right along with Pryor and Clinton-Dix.

He's not going to be perfect, but he's going to be around the ball in a physical way all game long. He also has a swagger and energy to him that will be contagious, which is much needed on DEF.

I also envisioned Kam Chancellor when watching him play. Smaller, but still bigger for the position.

Stroh's picture

I don't see it w/ Bucannon. His shuttle drill was poor by safety standards. That measures quickness and that is more important than speed. I see straight speed but the poor shuttle is a drill that is more important than speed. He's gonna have bust potential due to the lack of quickness. I'll pass on him. Buyer beware!

FourEyesBrewing's picture

...and his sub-7 3-cone drill?

Stroh's picture

That was ok, not great. Either way like I said above the shuttle specifically measures quickness the best. The cone drill does to some extent but its not as telling as the shuttle.

MarkinMadison's picture

It may not be great, but it was still good for the top four this year. On paper, Buchannon looks like the most reliable prospect if you are going to go S in the first round. The Packers may be testing the line of BPA v. need this year.

I was REALLY disappointed with how much smaller Pryor came in at v. advertised. Not shocked given that he was at a smaller school, but disappointed. If CWood is right, and bigger/stronger/faster is what the Packers need, then Buchannon just moved ahead of Pryor.

Jamie's picture

Stroh - I posted this in the Pryor thread. I think you're being unfairly harsh on Bucannon on his shuttle (as well as in general placing too much emphasis on one drill).

Compare his 3-cone and 20 yd shuttle to a similarly built/athletic All-pro safety in Kam Chancellor and Bucannon blows his numbers away (he also ran a much faster combine 40), and is on par with Clinton-Dix and I went ahead and threw in a very good young safety in Eric Berry as well…

Bucannon – 6.96
Chancellor – 7.36
Clinton-Dix – 7.16
Berry – 6.80

20-yd Shuttle
Bucannon – 4.26
Chancellor – 4.41
Clinton-Dix – 4.16
Berry – 4.23

G-man's picture

Stroh, when you watch all three on game tape (not highlights) I think you will like him more. They all have flaws and I think he has the fewest.

Brian Carriveau's picture

Not saying whether it's right or wrong, but here's one study that says the biggest predictors of future success for safeties (defined as becoming at least a three year starter in the NFL) are the 40, the 20-yard split and the three-cone drill, with the vertical, broad jumps and short shuttle as moderate predictors:

Stroh's picture

According to the article its not the 20 split, its the flying 20. The 20 split is the start to 20 yds. I'm assuming the flying 20 is the 10 yd to 30 yd or 20 yd to 40 yd time.

Judging by those predictors, Packers already have their starting Safety. Sean Richardson... He fit all the criteria perfectly, not sure his flying 20 time tho.

Still say sign a FA to start at Safety, move Hyde to safety, continue to develop Richardson and draft a CB. That's the best way to fix the secondary issues. Drafting a rookie safety might include a 3 year course a la Collins to become a playmaker. Once Collins had a couple years experience he did fine adjusting to Capers scheme and making the calls. A rookie is probably going to struggle, as will Hyde IMO, to adjust to safety.

Phatgzus's picture

I'd be happy if we drafted any of those guys, especially if we can get him in the 2nd.

Evan's picture

I'm thinking I'd be thrilled with any one of these 3 guys. And the chances at least one is there at 21 are pretty good.

RC Packer Fan's picture

I honestly think there is a good chance that all 3 could be available if not 2 out of the 3.

Idiot Fan's picture

Hopefully. That way we can all say, "Don't blame me, I would have picked _______" when our actual pick isn't voted All-pro in the middle of his first mini-camp.

RC Packer Fan's picture

lol, so true right...

Jamie's picture

Let the record show...

I'm pretty sure I was the first hack on this sight to put Bucannon in the conversation with Pryor and Clinton-Dix as a top three, possible top two safety, in this class.

Now, the proof will be what type of player his is three years from now, but I think it's possible he gets drafted mid-late 1st or mid-2nd rd at worst...with the depth of this draft it's hard to be more specific.

The TKstinator's picture

Time will indeed tell.
Check the pudding for proof.

Greenville's picture

Steve brown Chris Clemons mike mitchell in free agency. but besides doing that just to make shore we got the position protected so we never have to go thru wat we been having to past couple seasons especially this year, id draft dix or Pryor if there still there. But if not then take buccanon in the second if he's still there. But if he keeps emerging like how everyone is saying he will be long gone in the second or even first.

Bert's picture

I would say sign a vet FA safety, move Hyde and then draft the BPA. None of these guys are sure-fire starters and we need immediate help at safety. If TT decides that one of the safeties is BPA then great. If not, then pass.

4thand1's picture

I've been watching a lot of draft shows and they say 3 of the top safeties can start right away. I'm with you though, sign a proven FA. Draft Aaron Donald. You don't win every defensive award for nothing. He deserved them all.

Bert's picture

My main concern with a rookie is the mental side. Way too many communications goof-ups last year. I don't think a rookie is gonna be much of an immediate improvement in that regard. If we can sign a vet who understands the game we'll much further ahead than rolling the dice with a rookie. IMHO.

Phatgzus's picture

Agreed, it's not like he won't get a lot of playing time because the Packers run a 3-4 either-they play a lot of Nickel and some Dime, and he can get a breather when they're in the base; plus it's not like he wouldn't be able to two-gap decently either, dude's a manimal.

mark's picture

Imagine if Mosley slides to the Packers in 1, Pryor in 2 and Jarvis Landry in 3.

Albert Lingerfeld's picture

Mosley is going to the Vikes. Then they will take a passer and then a defensive end to fill the three needs and be a real contender next year.

Stroh's picture

Spoken like the queens fan we know you to be!!!

Morgan Mundane's picture

Knowing how despirately the Packers could use several of these guys to beef up the worst defensive backfield in the NFL, our nemesis the Vikes, Lions and Bears will grab these guys first if they have a chance.

Evan's picture

And a draft philosophy focused on hurting the Packers vs. helping themselves is exactly why those teams will always be looking up at the Packers.

gslumers's picture

Most important attribute to consider-who can tackle more soundly/consistantly. I want someone who can lay the wood. Tough to teach it, and Lord know we missed it in the secondary last year.

Lou's picture

Agreed, the really good defensive teams give up yards but not many after the catch or past the line of scrimmage because their fundamental tackling is so sound. The teams that get to the big dance (Ravens - 49ers - Seahawks - Pats) and those that are close continually (Bears) all tackle well. It is hard to project all the measurables at the combine into NFL game day results but it gives us a lot to discuss. In regards to measurables and tackling ability, a short safety with average speed who played QB in college became a Packer & NFL Hall of Famer and per Mike Ditka, nobody he saw tackled better than Willie Wood.

Mustadio's picture

...Just watch how this guys tackles compared to others... he wraps up and dominates. Why is this not discussed more?

Jake's picture

Nobody that ever watched Bucannon play would ever mention him in the same sentence as Clinton-Dix and Pryor. They are much better players.

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