The Arizona Cardinals were originally slated to pick 20th overall in the 2014 NFL Draft, but they traded back with the New Orleans Saints. The Cardinals ended up picking at 27th and with that pick they selected Deone Bucannon, safety out of Washington State.
The Cardinals had a need at strong safety and they filled it with Bucannon, who most considered the third-best safety in this class behind Calvin Pryor and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. While the Cardinals do have Rashad Johnson and last year’s standout rookie Tyrann Mathieu on the roster, both players are more free safeties than they are strong safeties.
Since the Cardinals lost long-time safety Adrian Wilson, they’ve struggled to adequately replace him on the back end of their defense, so Bucannon will step in and do his best to change that trend. Bucannon went largely unnoticed playing for a moribund Washington State team, but the lack of notoriety certainly didn’t diminish his ability to play. Bucannon is one of the hardest hitters in the draft and is also adept in coverage, which will come in handy facing Vernon Davis twice a season.
Despite missing the playoffs with 10 wins last season, a rare occurrence, Arizona is definitely on the upswing under new coach Bruce Arians and they didn’t have many glaring needs to fill entering the draft. Safety was one of their top needs, so this pick marries talent with need, which is always a plus.
Bucannon could be a perfect complement to the smaller Mathieu, as the former Wazzu Cougar can step up and help in the run game where previous strong safety Yeremiah Bell struggled. With a secondary consisting of Patrick Peterson, Antonio Cromartie, Mathieu, and Bucannon, the Cardinals are well suited to defend against some of the better passing offenses they figure to face this season.
While Bucannon wasn’t considered by many to be first-round material, it’s not that significant of a reach, especially when you consider that fourth-rated safety Jimmie Ward came off the board to San Francisco only a few picks later. For this reason, plus the fact that it arguably fills Arizona’s largest need and they were able to trade back and get another pick to accomplish this, the Cardinals selection of Bucannon earns a B+.