Strong Safety is arguably the Arizona Cardinals top position of need heading into this year's draft. While there is some solid talent to be found, it's not a deep safety class by any means. With the free agency safety pool is drying up faster than a raindrop on the desert sidewalk, the draft is possibly the Cardinals' last shot at adding an impact player to their roster of young safeties.
The one SS I think more highly of than any other in this draft in terms of talent, physical tools, and fit for the Cardinals is Deone Bucannon out of Washington State. (And his initials spell out his playing position! Makes him even more endearing, don't it?)
Here are two videos of the safety, both from NFL.com. One highlighting his career at WSU, another that shows off more of his personality. The kid's got game, loves to lay the wood, and comes across as humble, team-oriented, and dedicated to working hard in all facets of the game. The kind of player coaches love.
For most of 2014 leading up to the draft, Bucannon has been projected somewhere in the 2nd or 3rd round behind Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor, possibly even Jimmie Ward. But with the draft
an eternity and a half dear God why isn't it here yet? a mere 3-weeks away, it seems Bucannon's draft stock is trending upward, possibly to an unexpected extreme.
A number of fans here on Revenge of the Birds have considered the WSU safety to be a great prospect to use our 2nd round pick at #52 on, with others hoping he'll fall to us in the 3rd at #84. But if the recent vibes on Bucannon the internet has been throwing out are true, the Cardinals may not even have a shot at him at either spot.
More than one NFL.com analyst has commented on the idea that he could end up being a first-round pick. One writer expressed these thoughts about Bucannon along with other prospects that could potentially sneak into the 1st:
In today's pass-happy NFL, safety has become a marquee defensive spot. Although observers have frequently cited Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor as the two difference makers at the position in this draft, the league-wide hunger for athletic safeties with an aggressive temperament could push Bucannon into the first round. The Washington State standout is a "box safety" with a knack for punishing runners in the hole, and his outstanding performance at the combine suggests he could develop into a credible cover man at the next level. With Clinton-Dix and Pryor poised to come off the board early, Bucannon could surge up the charts due to the effect of supply and demand on draft day.
The writer even specifically lists the Cardinals as a potential team fit. Heck. Yes.
Another article was dedicated entirely to Bucannon and the idea of him being a first-round draft pick. While there is some tempered expectations on the idea, the following fact still sticks out:
As many as 12 teams could be looking to draft a safety in the first two rounds of the draft, so there's certainly a market for someone like Bucannon. It might be a stretch to say that all that demand will help push the former Cougars star into the first round but stranger things have happened when teams feel the pressure of draft.
Personally, that's a most disconcerting thought...there are a lot of teams out there potentially looking to grab a safety early, including the Rams, Falcons, Jets, Cowboys, Bears, Packers, and Niners. With both HHCD and Pryor potentially being gone before the #20 pick, and 31 picks until the Cardinals next selection, the odds seem to be against the idea that Bucannon will make it through that gauntlet to reach the Cardinals again.
So what does this mean for Arizona? Well, that's hard to say. One could argue that they could still find another decent player in the later rounds to add to the SS depth chart, or even that they could roll just fine with Jefferson and Johnson working at SS if all the prospects they like at the position don't fall to them. However...that's all assuming they stay put at #20.
It's no secret that many Arizona fans would down a bucket of red Kool-Aid if the Cardinals could manage to trade down in the 1st round and gain an extra pick or two. If this happened, depending on how far back they roll, what are the odds that maybe the Cardinals will be the team that deems Bucannon's value to be worth a late pick in the 1st? As much as I'm enamored by the idea of the Cardinals landing Bucannon, I still think there will probably be at least a player or two whose overall value will be higher in a BPA or BPA@PoN style selection, like perhaps one of the DLinemen or a guy like Shazier (roley cheers from afar...the bandwagon echoes). Unlikely as it may be, it still remains a distant possibility.
This leads to the second and more likely option: trading up in the 2nd. As much as I hate the idea of trading up, the Cardinals have pulled such a move once before back in 2010 to grab a player they believed in at a position they needed who turned out to be a ProBowl talent ILB in Daryl Washington. That year the Cardinals owned the 26th pick of the draft in the 1st round (used on "Big Dan" Williams) and traded up 11 spots from #58 to #47 in in the 2nd-round exchange for an extra 3rd-round pick they owned that year. Six spots higher in this year's draft, the Cardinals are without an extra pick to deal and without a 7th-round pick due to the Carson Palmer trade.
Trading up in the 2nd seems like the safest way to guarantee being able to select Bucannon while doing so at a proper value. But with little trade-ammo is it in the realm of possibility? Perhaps if they package a future pick or a currently rostered player, though both seem unlikely. Odds are the only way that this could realistically play out would be if the Cardinals could trade back in the 1st, then with the flexibility given by gaining an extra pick or picks, trade up in the 2nd. That right there is a personal dream scenario. Well...actually, trading back and then having all the players I want fall to us without having to trade up at all would be...buuuut who has time to explain all that?
All this to say, if the Cardinals like Bucannon as much as I do, they may find themselves having to jump through a few hoops in order to do so. For the kind of player he is, the potential he has, and the fit he'd be for this team though, all the acrobatics may ultimately be worth it...
This has been Azusa_PacifiCardinal with another post to help Cardinals fans kill time until Draft Day. Thanks again for reading and you stay classy RotB Nation.