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Arizona Cardinals rookie safety Deone Bucannon shows off strength vs. Washington

Rookie first-round pick Deone Bucannon is a hard-hitting safety. He showed against Washington just how powerful he is.

Christian Petersen

It took one play in the second quarter against Washington for Arizona Cardinals rookie safety Deone Bucannon -- who has played the vast majority of his 232 snaps this season at linebacker -- to show why he was made a first-round pick by general manager Steve Keim this past May.

The play didn't make the highlight reel. Fox color commentator Brady Quinn didn't even recognize what Bucannon had done.

But I saw it.

This play began at the Arizona 15-yard line; it's 2nd-and-goal after right guard Chris Chester was called for a false start penalty on first down and quarterback Kirk Cousins was unable to hook up with tight end Niles Paul immediately afterward.

Chester is highlighted on this play, as is Bucannon. Washington's starting right guard, Chester was originally a second-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 2006 and spent his first five seasons there. He signed with Washington as a free agent in 2011.

He stands 6'3" and is listed at a hefty 333 pounds -- that's two inches and 120 pounds larger than Bucannon.

This is a stretch play designed for Washington running back Alfred Morris. He has been limited to this point and, if not for Bucannon's pure strength, he may have scored a touchdown here.

A split second after the snap, you can see Chester has made a beeline for Bucannon. As with linebacker Larry Foote (50), Bucannon has broken toward the left side of the line in anticipation of the stretch play to come.

The next screen shot is where we see Bucannon become the strong safety Keim envisioned him becoming -- a viable replacement for Cardinals fan favorite and potential future Hall of Famer, Adrian Wilson.

Bucannon takes on Chester's entire 333-pound frame as both men lean into each other. The rookie safety lowers his shoulder, deflecting some of Chester's leverage.

Because of that, Bucannon blows through Chester, moving him off his base -- an entire two yards backward. He is now in position to make a play on Morris, which he does.

The only thing Bucannon could have done differently on this play is stay upright and drop a shoulder into Morris' gut. Had he, the play may have made the highlight reel. As it were, Morris was tripped up and gained only five instead of likely walking into the end zone.

It's plays like this that Bucannon flashed at Washington State. He was always known as a big hitter in college, to the point of borderline recklessness at times.

But this play is why Keim brought him in; not because of his ability to crush a ball-carrier, but for his instincts in the run game and brute strength in shedding blockers 100-plus pounds heavier than he.