The BGN Universe has spoken and believes safety is easily the Eagles biggest need heading into the offseason. While the Eagles drafted Earl Wolff, signed Pat Chung and Nate Allen improved tremendously, the unit faltered throughout the season. Chung was an epic bust, Wolff was up-and-down and Allen is scheduled to be free agent, so clearly the Eagles need to add options and upgrades.
Washington State strong safety Deone Bucannon is among the top options for the Eagles and several other teams in the upcoming draft. A three-star prospect of Scout.com, who lettered golf and football in high school, Bucannon committed to Washington State. A California native, football runs in his family as his little brother is also a safety with the Cougars.
He was invited to the Senior Bowl and had three tackles in the game.
A four-year player at Washington State, Bucannon started making an impact from the jump. He starting eight games (appearing in 12) as a freshman, Bucannon produced a team-leading 84 tackles (four for loss), five pass defensed, two forced fumbles and two interceptions. He became full-time starter as a sophomore. In his second season, Bucannon collected 80 tackles (two for loss), four pass breakups, a forced fumble and three interceptions.
Bucannon continued to excel as a junior. He made the All-Pac 12 second team after creating a team-high 106 tackles (three for loss), four pass breakups one sack, one forced fumble and four interceptions. Bucannon continued to improve in his final season at Washington State with first team All-American and All-Pac 12 honors. As a senior, he compiled a team and career high 114 tackles (4.5 for loss), three forced fumbles and six interceptions.
First and foremost, Bucannon is one of the best hitters in college football. He pursues well and finishes with big hits. He is always active and can make plays. He had seven forced fumbles in college and did so with a hard-hitting and an ability to strip the ball.
He is literally a hair under 6-foot-1 and weighs 216 pounds, which makes him look like a linebacker. To give you a comparison in weight and height, Bucannon is an inch shorter and weighs two pounds less than Florida State linebacker Telvin Smith, who is a bit of a tweener. He has coverage ability and a history of causing interceptions. He floats to the ball well and has solid hips for changing directions.
Another positive is that he played special teams throughout his college career. If he is not an immediate starter, he will have no issue on the third phase.
Bucannon plays low and has shown the ability to be run over at times, even by quarterbacks (ASU's Taylor Kelly literally turned him into road kill this season on a scramble). He also can get baited in coverage and it happens a few times per game on tape. It also feels at times like he gets lost in coverage. At times, he does take poor angles in pursuit.
I am of the belief that Bucannon will be a second round pick. He has very few weaknesses in his game and can defend in the pass and run. The Eagles will love his size and measurements (78-inch wingspan!!!!). He is pretty much everything that Nate Allen is not. He is a hard-hitter, a physical specimen and a play-maker. He also has experience against Chip Kelly, having collected 14 tackles and three interceptions in three games against Kelly's Oregon Ducks from 2010-2012. He is also a large safety that could serve as Billy Davis' shorter Adrian Wilson.
Bucannon is a great consolation prize if the Eagles decide to pass on a safety in the first round. A second round safety will allow the Eagles to focus on wide receiver, pass rusher or whichever player they deem as the best available. With a mix of size and play-making ability, it is not hard to make the connection between Bucannon and the Eagles.
Trust Your Own Eyes
(Let's start with his career performance against Kelly's Ducks in 2012 and then move on to this year's tape.)
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