Sizing up Deone Bucannon as NFL Combine nears

DEONE BUCANNON

ALL-AMERICAN Washington State strong safety Deone Bucannon will check in for the NFL Combine in Indianapolis on Wednesday and then begin the official, four-day process of measuring, poking, prodding, answering and working out on Saturday. In its pre-Combine analysis, NFL.com praises Bucannon for his "old-school mentality" but raises concern about speed and control.

In its "bottom line" on the 6-1, 216-pound Deone Bucannon, NFL.com writes, "Although he's built like a cornerback, Bucannon's style of play makes it easy to identify him as a tone-setting strong safety. Has coverage limitations, but brings the aggressiveness and physicality to carve a niche as a downhill box defender and core special-teams player."

For strengths, NFL.com says this about Bucannon:
Reads run and drops downhill quickly. Has an old-school mentality -- likes contact and is a physical tackler (seeks to punish the ball carrier). Led the Pac-12 in tackles. Covers kicks and has an ideal mentality for special teams. Four-year starter and three-time captain.

For weaknesses, the site says:
Average speed -- struggles to recover from missteps and will not track anyone down from behind. Some tightness in his hips. Man-coverage limitations (struggles to match with slot receivers). Can be overaggressive and miss tackles. Does not always arrive under control in space. Misjudges angles.

NFL.com assigns Bucannon a grade of 5.32. That would tie him with Florida State's Terrence Brooks as the fourth-highest safety prospect in the draft behind Calvin Pryor (Louisville, 6.2), Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Alabama, 6.1), Marqueston Huff (Wyoming, 5.7) and Craig Loston (LSU, 5.6).

Players with grades between 5.0 and 6.9 are considered fourth-round or lower draft picks who are likely to make an NFL team as a backup/role player and special teams contributor.

For perspective on the modesty of NFL.com's grading at this stage, consider that South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who is widely considered one of the top three overall picks, has a 7.5 grade right now. That translates to being a second-round draft pick. And Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles, similarly considered a top five overall pick, currently has a 6.4 grade.

NFLdraftscout.com projects Bucannon as the No. 82 overall prospect (and No. 2 strong safety), and sees him being taken in the second or third round of the draft. Scout.com ranks him the No. 74 overall prospect and No. 4 safety (free or strong). That would place him near the top of the third round.

Bucannon turned heads at the Senior Bowl last month. The Sporting News lauded his press technique and jam skills. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said impressed Falcons coaches lamented that Senior Bowl rules precluded Bucannon from showing off his blitzing skills. And Just about everybody was impressed by his physique.

CLICK HERE to see a stirring new video, "Deone Bucannon's Road to the NFL" produced by his agents, Foster & Easley.

NOTABLE:
If Bucannon sticks in the NFL, he will join a streak that began in 1987, with Ricky Reynolds at Tampa Bay, of at least one Coug, and typically multiples, playing defensive back in the NFL. Husain Abdullah (Kansas City) and Eric Frampton (New Orleans) carried on the tradition this past season. The others in this 27-year-long roll call reads like a Who's Who of crimson royalty: James Hasty, Torey Hunter, Singor Mobley, Brian Walker, Steve Gleason, Lamont Thompson, Marcus Trufant, Erik Coleman, Jason David, Hamza Abdullah, and Karl Paymah.

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