Stiff, could struggle to turn and run with receivers
Overly aggressive, penalties
Summary: The past few seasons, Bucannon was one of the most physical defenders in the Pac-12. He has developed a reputation as being a thumper safety who is always looking to punish receivers and running backs. Generally, Bucannon is a reliable tackler who has no problems being the eighth man in the box.
Bucannon made his presence felt for the Cougars in 2011 as he recorded three interceptions, 80 tackles and four passes broken up. Bucannon improved as a junior with four interceptions, four passes broken up, one forced fumble, and 106 tackles in 2012. This year was the senior's best season as he was one of the top safeties in college football. Bucannon totaled six interceptions with 114 tackles, three forced fumbles and one pass broken up in 2013. At the Senior Bowl, he had a quality week of practice and didn't do anything significant to change his draft stock for better or worse.
For the NFL, Bucannon looks like a good fit for a team that is looking for a strong safety type. He can function as an eighth man in the box and help to defend the run. Bucannon can also operate well in zone coverage and used that ability to produce some interceptions in college. He also should be a good contributor on special teams if he doesn't crack the starting lineup early.
Bucannon doesn't look like a good fit as a safety who can cover receiving tight ends or slot receivers in man coverage. He also isn't a rangy safety to defend the deep part of the field from speed receivers. Teams that like to have their safeties interchangeable based on a pre-snap read probably will have some reservations about Bucannon. In pass coverage in the NFL, he would function best in a zone-based scheme like a Tampa 2.
Because of those coverage concerns, Bucannon looks like a third- or fourth-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Player Comparison: Bernard Pollard. In terms of style of play, Bucannon is similar to Pollard. Both are hard-hitting safeties who can come up with some splash plays while also laying out offensive players at every opportunity. Pollard's weakness is in pass coverage, although he improved during his career. Bucannon will have to do the same. Pollard was a second-round pick out of Purdue. Bucannon may not go that early, but he could be a similar to player to Pollard in the NFL.
NFL Matches: Philadelphia, St. Louis, Baltimore, Green Bay, San Francisco, Arizona
There are a lot of teams that could consider Bucannon on the second day or early in the third day of the 2014 NFL Draft. The Eagles have a huge hole at safety, and Chip Kelly showed a tendency last year to draft players from collegiate rivals. Bucannon would bring a physical element to Philadelphia's defense, which Kelly likes in his defenders.
St. Louis also needs a long-term safety to pair with T.J. McDonald. The Rams' safety play was a big weakness in their defense in 2013.
Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said that improving the safety position would be a goal of the offseason. Bucannon and Matt Elam could form one of the most physical tandems in the NFL.
The safety position was a weakness for Green Bay last year. The team needs to find a partner to go with Morgan Burnett. Bucannon isn't really the Packers' type of defensive back as they prefer longer and rangy athletes for their defensive backfield.
San Francisco could use an understudy to Donte Whitner, and Bucannon would be a natural for that role. Arizona got a good season out of Yeremiah Bell last year, but the Cardinals will need to get a long-term starter.