When the Arizona Cardinals ended practice on Friday, the media swarmed to first-round pick Deone Bucannon, who is expected to play a prominent role on the team's defense in 2014.
Bucannon knows this and shows the perfect balance of humility and confidence.
He told reporters that the biggest thing at this stage is the mental side of things. "It's a mental jump," he said. "I'm not there yet, but I'm going to get there."
In fact, he said something that really stood out to me. He recognizes the players he has around him in terms of talent. He said that Patrick Peterson, Antonio Cromartie and Tyrann Mathieu are all "one of the best in the game" and that with those guys around him, he is in a great situation.
"It's a lot of resources, so you'll be dumb to fail, honestly," he said.
That is the perfect way to say it. He has talent. He knows it, but he knows that he has stars around him. But he has the right mind set. "Step by step I have to earn the respect of those guys," he said. "Nothing is given to me."
He goes on:
"I want to be on the field. That's my goal. Like I've said since the first day: I want to earn the respect of my teammates, I want to earn the respect of my coaches and get out there on the field and showcase my talent."
Right now, though, head coach Bruce Arians says that Bucannon is pressing a little bit.
"Deone's really only got one problem," explained the head coach. "He is so much a perfectionist. He got 'paralysis by analysis' a little bit because he wants to do everything absolutely perfect. Even Tyrann said, 'Man, just play.' You can't play perfect all the time. He doesn't want to make a mistake and you love that about him."
Bucannon noted that "the little things are the big things" right now. He doesn't want to make mental mistakes. He doesn't want to be on that accountability board. He wants to prove himself to his established teammates so they can trust him to make plays.
I could not have been more impressed with him when I saw him. We know he has the physical talent -- he has the size and speed. But you can tell that he is intelligent and hard working. He will make mistakes, but once he is comfortable on the field, he is going to do good things.