2014 NFL Draft Prospect: Deone Bucannon

Free agency has all but ground to a halt. Though the New York Jets 2014 roster has started to take shape, the team has twelve draft picks and can add a much needed infusion of talent. One of the major areas of need for the Jets is in the secondary, both at safety and corner. With this in mind, lets take a look at a possible early target for the team, Deone Buchanon.

Resume

  • 2013: First-team All-American, First-team All-Pac-12, and a Jim Thorpe Award finalist
  • 2012: Second-team All-Pac-12
  • Three time captain

Strengths:

  • Hit Power: HITSTICK! Bucannon is best known for his bone jarring tackles and resulting fumbles. He cuts an imposing figure at 6’1″, 211 lbs. Despite the reputation of most punishing tacklers in the NFL, Bucannon is an excellent form tackler and is not a liability when it comes to penalties. This clip should speak for itself:

  • Range: Bucannon explodes off the snap and can be anywhere on the field in an instant. He uses his speed to effectively contain and limit yards after the catch/contact. His pursuit is solid, able to quickly gain on open field runners. Wether he is lined up as the deep-back or in-the-box, Bucannon is an effective run stopper as he quickly flies down hill and closes running lanes. Watch on this play as Bucannon gets from the middle endzone to the 15 yard sideline in a flash:

  • Pass Defense: While he is more of the prototypical, in-the-box strong safety, Bucannon has the ball skills, speed, and vertical ability to be an effective pass defender. While not his primary role in the Cougars defense, Bucannon responded well when asked to play the single high safety or cover the tight end. His range and power are also effective tools in creating anticipation in wide receivers crossing his zone. Here, Bucannon starts on the far left of the screen as the deep back and follows Mariota across the field to make a play on the ball:

Weaknesses:

  • Fluidity: While his athleticism is not in question, Bucannon does display some stiffness of the hips and a choppy backpedal in pass defense. This prevents him from effectively flipping his hips and transitioning his coverage. While he has the speed to match most NFL wideouts, Bucannon may struggle when asked to line up in straight man coverage.
  • Awareness: Bucannon will often bite on a double move or cut back from shiftier ball carriers. Bucannon will also overlook potential blockers when focusing too intently on a target. He occasionally focuses more on the hit than the angle required to get there. Here, Bucannon fails to recognize the play action (while in contain), over pursues the ball carrier, and allows the quarterback to score:

  • Aggressiveness: This is not an issue regarding penalties but is a cause for concern when it comes to missed tackles. His misfires on shiftier ball carries and angles are often due to his eagerness for the big play. Occasionally, he will lunge for a tackle and under shoot his target. Here, Bucannon gets over eager and gives up the angle to try and make a stop in the backfield:

Fit With the Jets:

Antonio Allen’s encouraging growth should not prevent the Jets from drafting Bucannon. Allen and Bucannon’s skill sets to do not entirely overlap. Allen is good at covering the tight end and effective in-the-box but lacks the power and deep-coverage ability of Bucannon. Bucannon is not an ideal cover safety but Rex Ryan has shown a preference for two strong safety looks. With Rex’s scheming in mind, Bucannon compliments Allen well. Both can cover and both can hit but when a deep back is needed in Cover-1, Bucannon could fill the role adequately.

Conclusion

Bucannon’s play should remind Jets fans a lot of Laron Landry. If drafted, he would play a very similar role to Landry in the Jets defense (though with superior coverage ability). Depending on where he is taken, Bucannon could provide serious value. Some have projected him going as early as the late first, a reach for the Jets. Depending on what the team does with its first round pick, Bucannon could be a solid second round selection. The best value for Bucannon would be in the third or fourth round range. He is likely the fourth best safety prospect after Pryor, Ward, and Clinton-Dix.

Author: Cole Patterson

Cole has attended American University in Washington DC and is currently completing a double major in history and global communications at Ramapo College in Northern NJ. He has served as an NFL Analyst for a local DC radio show, Fanatic Radio. He lives and dies with the New York Jets. Cole will help lead Jets coverage and analysis.