The Arizona Cardinals already have a very solid defense. In fact, they were one of the most deceptively good defenses in the NFL last season, and a lot of that had to do with the development and emergence of cornerback Patrick Peterson and safety/corner Tyrann Mathieu.
The Cardinals found the best way to use Mathieu, who is now recovering from injury, but will again be a huge part of their defensive plans this season if and when he returns to the field. Peterson is joined at the cornerback spot by former Jets corner Antonio Cromartie, who had declined of late but figures to provide some kind of boost to the Cardinals’ secondary, which needed someone who could hold down the fort opposite Peterson.
As good as this area looked on paper before the draft, the Cardinals saw the safety position as an area they needed to upgrade, and they dove in head first.
In what would have been considered a pretty weak overall class for safeties, NFL teams trumped the analysts across the web and there was actually a heck of a run on safeties in the first round of the draft. Not the least surprising of which was the Cardinals’ selection of Deone Bucannon, a ball-hawking safety out of Washington State who put up an All-American campaign and proved over the course of his career that he flat out knows how to make plays and get his hands on the football.
At 6’1″ 216 pounds with a 78-inch wingspan, Bucannon showed out athletically with a 4.48 second 40 yard dash, 19 bench press reps, and a 36.5 inch vertical jump.
Those numbers reflect what you’d see from a first round pick, as did Bucannon’s collegiate production. As a senior, he posted 114 tackles, six interceptions, 4.5 tackles for loss, and three forced fumbles. In his junior year, he tallied 106 tackles and another four picks.
That ball-hawking mentality and the fact that he has pretty top flight athletic ability leads me to believe he can be an instant starter in the Cardinals’ defense. Adrian Wilson had been a staple in the Cardinals’ secondary for many years, and I see no reason why Bucannon can’t have a similar NFL career. He flies to the football, he hits hard, and most of all, he converts on opportunities.
With guys like Peterson, Mathieu, and Cromartie also in the secondary, the Cardinals have followed the Seattle Seahawks’ model of getting guys who are instinctive and have proven a knack for making plays on the football. Now with Bucannon in the fold, they figure to be even tougher to move the ball against, especially in the passing game.