Bucannon scores spot on Cardinals roster


Former WSU safety Deone Bucannon partipates in senior day to showcase his abilities. Bucannon was recently drafted in the first round of the NFL draft. Photo taken March 12, 2014.

MICHAEL-SHAWN DUGAR | Evergreen columnist

Former WSU safety Deone Bucannon capped a season full of accolades with a phone call on national television that would ultimately change his life.

Bucannon was selected No. 27 overall by the Arizona Cardinals last Thursday in the NFL Draft, the first Cougar to be drafted in the first round since the Seattle Seahawks chose Marcus Trufant for the No. 11 overall pick in 2003.

Bucannon is also the first WSU defensive back drafted since 2007, when the Oakland Raiders picked Eric Frampton in the fifth round.

“It’s truly a blessing,” Bucannon said. “All that ran through my mind was how thankful I was—just my emotions and all the work that I’ve put in and all the work I still have left to go.”

The three-time All-Pac-12 safety led the conference in tackles with 114 and tied for the conference lead with six interceptions in his senior season. He finished his Cougar career as all-time second in solo tackles with 268 and third in interceptions with 15.

The 6-foot-1, 211-pound safety joins cornerbacks Antonio Cromartie and Patrick Peterson along with safety Tyrann Matthieu in the Cardinals’ defensive backfield.

“Those are all guys I can learn from and get a lot of great things to improve my game,” Bucannon said.

During his pre-draft visit to Arizona, Bucannon said the Cardinals showed the most interest of all the teams he visited. The emotion-packed phone call on draft day made their decision official.

“They were excited and telling me what they were excited about me, as a player what they wanted out of me—to get in there and bring aggression and play my game,” Bucannon said. “It was a bunch of excitement when they called, and a lot of it I didn’t really hear because I was in the middle of a couple of emotions, and it meant a lot that they said they were going to draft me.”

The Cardinals initially had the No. 20 overall pick but traded it to the New Orleans Saints for the 27th and 91st before drafting Bucannon.

“Deone Bucannon is a very talented guy,” Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said. “He’s got a great resume. He is a four-year starter, a team captain with two consecutive years of over 100 tackles. The guy is a head-hunter. He’s extremely physical.”

Especially in his last two seasons, Bucannon’s physicality became his trademark attribute. One of his more memorable hits came in the 2013 season opener against Auburn, when the strong safety laid a huge hit on Tigers’ running back Corey Grant, jarring the ball loose. That was one of the team-high three force fumbles he had that season.

“In our division, you better like to hit,” Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said. “He brings passion, and that’s what we loved about him. He’s a humble kid that loves to play the game and wants to learn from the best, and we’ve got some guys here to help him and teach him and give him opportunities to knock the crap out of people in our division.”