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Cardinals Find Safety In Deone Bucannon

Posted May 8, 2014

After trade down, Washington State product arrives to echo Wilson

The Cardinals picked Washington State safety Deone Bucannon with their first-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft.

Steve Keim has always been close to Adrian Wilson, so the General Manager doesn’t take lightly the idea of comparing someone to the Cardinals’ former Pro Bowl safety.

He even said Thursday night, after the Cardinals spent their first-round draft pick on Washington State safety Deone Bucannon, that he really didn’t want to bring up Wilson when it came to Bucannon.

“I don’t want to mention him in the same breath as Adrian Wilson,” Keim said, “but there are some physical similarities and the same type of mentality.”

And that suited Bucannon just fine.

“That’s the level I want to be at, what he did,” Bucannon said. “Adrian Wilson, he is a great strong safety, especially for the Cardinals, a Hall of Fame-caliber player. It’s one of the guys you want to emulate. That’s what my blueprint will be based off of, Adrian Wilson, someone of that caliber. Nothing less.”

Whether Bucannon ever can reach Wilson’s lofty perch as future Ring of Honor player for the Cards won’t be known for a long time. But clearly Keim and coach Bruce Arians were thrilled to nab the 6-foot-1, 211-pound hitter who collected 15 interceptions in his four-year college career and surpassed 100 tackles the last two seasons.

He likely will land as a starter at strong safety, and once Tyrann Mathieu’s knee heals and he returns to free safety, the Cardinals will have an impressive secondary that also features starting cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Antonio Cromartie.

Bucannon said he took 20 visits after the Scouting combine to various teams and Arizona “by far was the place I wanted to go to, and I think they got the same vibe from me.”

The Cardinals wanted Bucannon. The performance the scouts saw on video was impressive, and then Bucannon ran a 4.48-second 40-yard dash at the Scouting combine. Keim and coach Bruce Arians also talked repeatedly about the passion Bucannon showed multiple times – including during their pre-draft dinner at the local Flemings. Such a trait is an absolute must for both decision-makers when it comes to their draft picks.

The Cardinals could have taken him at 20. But the chance was there to move back and pick up an extra third-round choice and that’s what Keim did, dealing the 20th selection to the Saints to get the 91st pick overall.

“We took a gamble,” Keim said.

Keim said the Cardinals liked Bucannon’s “size, speed, physicality” as a better fit at safety than Alabama’s Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, who was still available when the Cards came on the clock at 20. Keim made the trade, hoping Bucannon – who was expected to be a late first or second-round choice – would remain available.

There were more chances to move back at 27, but this time, the Cardinals stayed put.

“He plays with a lot of passion and he’ll be a great fit in our locker room,” Arians said. “He’s a humble kid who loves to play the game and wants to learn from the best. We’ll give him opportunities to knock the crap out of people in our division.”

Bucannon said he wants to start although he was quick to add “I’ll earn my spot.” With Mathieu still a longshot to be ready for the regular-season opener coming off his knee injury, Bucannon will go against Rashad Johnson and Tony Jefferson for playing time.

But the newcomer loved the idea of being a Cardinal, which is why he felt it was the perfect place.

“The first thing is you can tell within their defense and their coaching staff what they are talking about,” Bucannon said. “Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu, they are two perfect examples of what you want to be as a DB.”

Another good example of a defensive back would be Wilson. One other person took notice of Bucannon and whatever parallel might be with Wilson, and that was Wilson himself. Wilson, currently a free agent who still lives in the Valley, tweeted to Bucannon soon after the pick was made.

“Congratulations on being drafted to the @Azcardinals,” Wilson wrote. “Tradition is there for you. Get to work.”

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