Bucannon as safety, not (as much) linebacker

Posted by Darren Urban on March 30, 2015 – 9:31 am

Deone Bucannon was drafted as a safety, and then basically played linebacker all season. It was necessary because the Cardinals lost Daryl Washington and never quite found a linebacker replacement — so then-defensive coordinator Todd Bowles dropped the rookie into the mix in the nickel package as the new Washington.

Bucannon did pretty well in the role. But he sees himself as a safety and so do the Cardinals, and Bucannon will be a safety in 2015 — unless he isn’t.

“He’s going to play safety,” coach Bruce Arians said. “We know he can play dime linebacker. He’ll play safety until we find out we don’t have the other guy.”

What does that mean, exactly? Well, newcomer Sean Weatherspoon, if healthy, is a three-down linebacker. And there is still a chance the Cardinals will bring back Washington. If Washington does not return — or even if he does — the Cardinals could still draft another (speedy) inside linebacker. I don’t know if there is anyone out there left on the free agent market the Cardinals could sign for that role but it wouldn’t be unheard of for the position later in the offseason (Karlos Dansby, Larry Foote). Another factor: The Cards are flush at safety, with Tyrann Mathieu, Tony Jefferson and Rashad Johnson along with Bucannon.

“We know we have the flexibility because we have so many good, quality safeties,” Arians said. “He’ll still play (some linebacker) because we will still have that package. We like to have that much speed on the field.”


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34 Responses to “Bucannon as safety, not (as much) linebacker”

  1. By D on Mar 30, 2015 | Reply

    The Cards are loaded at safety.

    My 2015 Draft predication as it is looking today, if the Cards stay at #24 and don’t move, I see they may have the opportunity to draft 1 of the following names that would fill a hole:

    C. Erving Center. He is the best/biggest Center in the draft and can play tackle, something he did for FSU on the National Champ team. That is important if they don’t see extending Massie after this year. Although it appears that AZ has plenty of options at Center and at R. Guard this summer.

    Eli Harold. OLB- He is probably the 3 or 4 best OLB in the draft. Cards could use another pass rusher, but they do have Okafor at one spot, signed L Woodley and want to play K. Martin at OLB, so maybe it’s not as big as a need as we think.

    B. McKinney- ILB/OLB. Can play both inside and outside LB with great size, although not a fast/quick speed rusher. He maybe more of value to AZ in the first round than any other team with the DWash suspension, injury history to Spoon and the fact that Minter is a two down LB.

    Jalen Collins-CB This kid has the speed and size BA would love. Another LSU kid that could be a long term starter opposite of PP. Which will bring much value for AZ since both Powers and Bethel are UFA after this year.

    M. Gordon-RB. He may not be on the board by #24, but he is the best healthy RB in the draft. I tend to agree with Mr. Urban in that I could see AZ taking a RB in Round 2 or beyond with J. Ajayi or D. Johnson, both have size in this deep RB draft.

    Out of these players, I could see AZ taking a CB, but B. McKinney, although probably has 2nd round talent would be tempting. Then taking a RB in Round 2.

  2. By Patrick Hoog aka Don't Take Losses on Mar 30, 2015 | Reply

    Johnson and Jefferson appeared to have some lapses, a few too many missed coverages and tackles…

  3. By clssylssy on Mar 30, 2015 | Reply

    I like Bucannon but don’t think we have seen his best yet as, like you stated, he was put in a position to fill a deficiency. There have been a number of commentors on this thread who have voiced their disappointment in Bucannon but I think they fail to remember that most rookies take three years to develop and it’s really not fair to compare him with Dansby or D Wash, as they have much more experience and are legitimate linebackers not fill-ins. We are hip deep, it seems, with safeties (not a bad position to be in), just wish I could feel as confident about our CBs. I’m really hoping that Keim will get a difference maker in the draft but am not holding my breath as I get the sense that offense will be the focus, while everyone else is building their defense.

  4. By Steve . on Mar 30, 2015 | Reply

    Darren: Are the projected starters at FS and SS still Mathieu and Bucannon respectively?

  5. By Darren Urban on Mar 30, 2015 | Reply

    Steve —

    RE: Projected starters

    I think that’s tough to say right now. Even B.A. said the other day there is a reason the Cards announced “13 or 14” guys when the defense is announced at games. Depends on who they are playing, etc. The offseason will go a long way in sorting this out in the secondary.

  6. By Dr. G. on Mar 30, 2015 | Reply

    And we have another safety named “”Patrick Mulligan Peterson””

    Yeah, I know…playing the harp again….to be continued until I we get our $$$’s worth..!

    We need to draft a corner also early on..!!

  7. By Scott H on Mar 30, 2015 | Reply

    “And there is still a chance the Cardinals will bring back Washington.”

    I’m sorry? Come again??? Did I miss something??? Are we saying that if / when Washington is re-instated, the Cardinals will then decide if THEY want to bring him back??? I really didn’t think there was a question there….

    Geez, losing Washington doesn’t stop at just losing Washington, does it? We lose Washington and our first round pick from last year has to spend an entire season – maybe more??? – playing out of position. Not fair to him and certainly not ideal for the Cardinals.

    And the friggin’ NFL certainly doesn’t help by taking its damn sweet time getting around to ruling on these matters, does it? Gotta love that, huh? But, hey, we really can’t take any focus away from trying to put games in every country on the planet that has TV’s, can we? Heavens, no!

    It is amazing to me how much I love pro football….and REALLY can’t stand the NFL.

  8. By Louisville Card on Mar 30, 2015 | Reply


    Do safeties average more than linebackers? It seems odd to move someone when they’ve shown they can play well where there at. Especially when there isn’t a need at the position. I thought linebackers made as much or more than safeties. Why doesn’t Bucannon just stay where he seems best suited and be called a linebacker?

  9. By Darren Urban on Mar 30, 2015 | Reply

    Louisville —

    RE: Safeties/Linebackers

    Average more what?

  10. By brinnc on Mar 30, 2015 | Reply

    Bucannon was a LB in college before he moved to Safety, but he is definitely undersized!! As everyone seems to agree (course it doesnt take a rocket scientist to figure out he wasnt drafted to be a replacement for Dansby or DWash, and never will be expected to be their replacement!) His role as a Dime Linebacker seemed to work pretty well, but with my very limited coverage that I got last season I can only go on what I have read, or in some cases havent read, which could be a positive, if he is not making headlines in a negative way then thats a good thing, right??

    Erving is not a 1st round pick, that is a real reach and I dont think the Cardinals are hurting that bad at Center, not to reach that far anyway, he is versatile however, but that was in college, is he talented enough to play all positions on the O-Line in the NFL? And play them effectively?
    McKinney/ILB/Miss St is also a reach in the first, most are saying 3rd round, I’m not so sure he will make it out of the 2nd, if he does, better have a very early 3rd round pick to get him.
    Im excited to see Bethel step up at CB, dont have any stats or technical information that Bethel will be a very good CB, stepping in to begin a 6-8 year stellar career at CB, just a gut feeling!! Of course it could end up being gas pains too!! LOL!
    Think you are correct on Gordon on both issues, dont think he will be around at #24 (plus the B10 elite RB injury curse has me gunshy drafting any B10 RB in the 1st or 2nd round) and absolutely agree with your subtle “best healthy running back” comment, Gurley would be #1 on the RB rankings, and was (possibly still is, but just dont see it) a top 12 pick. Prior to his knee blowout, he was a shoe in top 12 pick, and a game changer from day 1. Cardinals may not have the luxury of drafting him at #24 and waiting until he is healthy, then hascto get into football shape, to me that equates to mid December before we see the real Todd Gurley!! In my humble opinion the Cardinals have a couple of “Aces” up their sleeve when it comes to the Gurley pick, BA/SK have put us in a position that I think we can draft BPA regardless of position, so what if we pulled one of those Aces, Draft Gurley at #24 (no way he makes it out of 1st round even with the blown knee!!) If there was any chance he would be on the board in the 2nd round then maybe Cardinals trade out of first, and tab him in second, but that is a total fantasy!! There are teams at the end of first round that can afford to draft him and have him all next season and debut in August 2016. Best we can do is put him on
    the IR with return, even then he will probably be inactive on Sundays for awhile, until he is fully ready to play. Meanwhile, BA has stated there are 15 RB’s in this class that are solid NFL backs, while that
    may be a bit of a stretch, Cardinals may be able to get Johnson/UNI
    in the 4th or Cobb/Minnesota in the 5th, (probably not feasible
    Johnson going low 2nd or high, very high 3rd) but Cobb in 5th is feasible, then Zenner/South Dakota St in the 7th is a steal, North Dakota St has a steal as well, Crockett? I believe it is. A new name and late round gem, possible diamond in the rough who is pretty much an unknown, at least here on East Coast, you guys out there on the left coast may have heard of him and know more about him, im still early in the research on him, but TERRELL WATSON/AZOUSA PACIFIC/RB could be all of the above and fill in while Gurley gets healthy, then serve as his backup giving him a breather now andcthen, Cobb/Minnesota would serve the same purpose. But Terrell is 6-2/240 big back! Downhill runner powerback, havent even seen his forty times yet, but Azousa Pacific has moved up to DII last season and this kid has quitely broken every rushing record set by some guy named Christian Okoya (sp) not to shabby if you ask me!! But Cardinals could go that route and use a later round pick on a RB in a very deep class, he could fill in along with Ellington, until Gurley is 100% healthy, then serve as his primary backup if things worked out and the rookie late round pick was effective, if not Cards can pretty much cut him upon Gurley’s return!!
    2nd option – Put the same role on Kerwynn Williams shoulders, and hope the flashes that most people saw (I didnt, of course, not alot of TV’s where I was!!) were legit and he could serve the same role, then there is always the option of a two headed monster, with K. Williams and a late round unpolished gem sharing the workload, complimenting Ellington!! Cardinals could get lucky and Gurley could be back earlier than expected (dont want to rush him back, take the chance of reinjuring the knee, that would be disastrous! ) if that appearscto be the case they could just use Ellington and the late round rookie RB as AE’s backup, and just hope AE doesnt get hurt or wear down again!! Then there is always the waiver wire option, but preseason signings take awhile to settle in and may not be worth it, rather just have AE playing the same role as last season, or a rookie late round gem filling in, or K. Williams filling in, any route the Cardinals choose has a massive light at the end of the tunnel, Todd Gurley is waiting at the end of that tunnel, couldnt ask for much more than that!!!! There was another point I wanted to make, but lucky for all you guys, I freaking forgot what the heck it was!!!!

  11. By Coach K on Mar 30, 2015 | Reply


    When will the NFL let the Cardinals know the status of D.Wash?

  12. By Darren Urban on Mar 30, 2015 | Reply

    Coach K —

    RE: DWash

    Probably not until May.

  13. By Word up! on Mar 30, 2015 | Reply

    The Cards have a solid safety in Tony Jefferson! For the amount of tackles he has combine to the numbers of plays he was in, compared to the other players on the team, he was 2nd behind Veteran Larry Foote. Also was the 2nd highest paid out bonus behind Larry Foote. This kid didn’t even start every game! He may not have speed, but he’s got great FootBall instincts.

  14. By brinnc on Mar 30, 2015 | Reply

    Dr G

    I’m with you on half your statement the P”m”P portion is spot on!!

    Not completely convinced a CB early in the draft is that big of a need. The 3rd round or even 4th should suffice, at least in my uneducated mind.
    I really like Djouin Smith/Florida Atlantic. He is a John Brown type player, “chip on the shoulder, prove all the naysayers wrong type”! He has been told his whole career he cant be successful at the next level, yet every level he just gets better!! Lets get the obvious out of he way, he is undersized, 5-11/190ish, and as everyone knows that magical 6-0 makes all the difference in the world (bullhockey!!) he is a shut down CB who opened some eyes at the Senior Bowl, he is also very physical, (WR’s remember all to well when Djouin hits them, which makes them a tad skittish the rest of the game!!) despite his height he usually covers the best WR his opponents have to offer! He is also a special teams stud as a KR/PR, nothing wrong with killing two birds with a single stone!). I think he can be a great value pick in the 4th, odds are he may still be available, I’m guessing 3rd round pick especially after his Senior Bowl practice week he looks to be moving up, recently he has slipped a tad, not sure if that is due to local combine (most prospects do better at their school workouts) then again maybe the up/down ride is a red flag.

    May want to be careful posting negative PP posts, (no matter how true they are!!) seems quite a few posters believe PP’s tweets and think he is the best CB (as he himself does!) in the NFL!! I was totally against the extension, at least this early, If I remember correctly we had the team option to use on the final season of PP’s contract, then if he had a solid season (even though his run support and tackling are atrocious) we also could have used the franchise tag on him, if the Cardinals thought he was that good he would of gotten a fat 1 year deal, then they could have negotiated a long term deal, and for a lot less money if he continued to play poorly in 2015 and 2016, if they couldnt agree on money then PP could have robbed another team!! In the end we would have gotten 6 years out of him. This is the one deal that I think SK got taken to the cleaners on, and I posted my thoughts prior to PP signing the “best CB in the NFL and highest paid CB in the NFL! And as I recall I got lambasted for my comments/opinions, not so much on this site, ( I did get a buttload of the dreaded “thumbs” ↓ but the name calling was at a minimum on here, may have been non-existant, which is one of many reasons I love this blog!! But on other sites I got called every curse word in the book, in many different languages! ! I cant stand the childish name calling and stupid comments especially from what are supposed to be fellow Cardinal fans!! I dont really pay much attention to the thumbs ↓ seems to be almost cowardly move especially without a rebuttal, very seldom do I hit the thumbs↓, and never, ever do I give a comment a thumbs↓ without replying and letting the poster know I in fact hit the thumbs ↓ button, and why, seems most posters on here just go thru and thumbs↓ all the posts without even reading them or putting their opinion in a reply, it is just funny to me now!! I would never ↓ on a posters opinion, only use it when someone gets negative toward a poster just because the disagree with their opinion, how immature and childish is that!!

    Here are a few more tidbits on WATSON/RB/AZOUSA PACIFIC
    He broke most of the conference career rushing records in just 2 seasons (Sophomore & Junior) rushed for over 600 yards in limited action his freshman season, just shy of 1100 yards his Sophomore season over 1800 yards his Junior season, dangit, cant recall his Senior numbers!! But he was DII all-american x2, conference player of the year, first team all-conference x3. He is a true power runner, most the time he wears down the defense by just running over them, and he rarely comes down on the first hit!! And shattering all of Christian Okaye (sp?) records prior to even playing his Senior season, now that is very impressive if you ask me (which I’m sure most of you wont!! LOL!) Im “experienced” enough to remember Mr Okoye (again, sp!) that was one massive and powerful RB with the Chief’s!!!

  15. By brinnc on Mar 30, 2015 | Reply

    I think Louisville was talking money, at least that is the way I read it.

    I do have a question though, and mine is a money question.

    Did the Cardinals release A.Q Shipley’s contract details, I havent seen any details, may have just overlooked them though.
    Also, Darren or anyone..what is Ellington due to make this season? And doesnt Ellington have two more seasons with the Cardinals, after this one? (with the 5th year being a team option.)
    Thanks, keep up the awesome work!

  16. By Darren Urban on Mar 30, 2015 | Reply

    brinnc —

    RE: Money


    Ellington makes the minimum. And only first round picks have a fifth-year option.

  17. By carlo milano on Mar 30, 2015 | Reply

    i think arizona need his best player back,hopefully daryl washington took the righ way and he is going to be focused in football and being a leader on this team

  18. By brinnc on Mar 30, 2015 | Reply

    Scott H
    I think cutting DWash wont be as easy as some think, I’m not sure but I believe it would be a big salary cap hit. One positive on Bucannon, he has played quite a bit of Linebacker in both HS and College, and it is good to know he can play Linebacker if need be, and with our deep and talented roster of Safeties, he may have to play some Linebacker so we have the best 11 on the field. I remember mentioning the idea of Bucannon playing a sort of hybrid Linebacker on here shortly after the draft and I almost got laughed off this board.
    Used to think the best was yet to come moving Bucannon back to SS, but if he keeps up playing a Dime Linebacker and keeps bulking up (which is the usual when you have a multi-million dollar weight facility!) he may morph into one hell of an ILB in a year or two, seems to me, its a win-win situation!!
    Plus his Pops is a former Marine! So you just can’t go wrong with that! LOL!!
    Hey look, I seemed to have shorted you again!! Damn it, I will work
    on one of my “Harry Potter” size reply’s!! :O

  19. By georgiebird on Mar 30, 2015 | Reply

    The Cards drafted Bucannon in Round #1 to be a safety. Regardless of other priorities, it was wrong to play him as a LB in the nickel package.
    The Cardinals being loaded at safety and hurting at LB should have nothing to do with Bucannon. Now, his second year will be his rookie year at SS.
    If BA had done this with a guy drafted 3rd thru 7th, I would see no problem. This year, I see no problem with making K. Martin a LB since he doesn’t have the strength to be in the front three.
    The drafting of Bucannon into a strong DB unit seems to have been a bit of overkill Reminds me of the drafting of M.Floyd (pre SK) when we had a similar receiver in Larry.
    I realize that Bucannon is a very good player and that Floyd could have been insurance for Larry leaving, but these type of lapses in the #1 draft choice could be looked at as difference makers as we try to narrow the gap with Seattle.

  20. By Coach K on Mar 31, 2015 | Reply

    Found this cool article on Lorenzo Mauldin. This is the kind of guy I want in my lockeroom. I hope he’s available in round two.

  21. By Louisville Card on Mar 31, 2015 | Reply

    Sorry about that Darren,

    I was asking if safeties average salary per year is higher than linebackers.

  22. By Darren Urban on Mar 31, 2015 | Reply

    Louisville —

    RE: Salary

    I’d have to check on that. I’d think linebacker is higher, if we factor in all linebackers.

  23. By clssylssy on Mar 31, 2015 | Reply

    When considering D Wash’s future, not only do you have to considered his Cap figure
    ($6.5M for 2015) but his dead money value as well ($8.5M for 2015) which makes things a little less cut and dry, in addition to which he would most certainly get snatched up by another team–likely one of our competitors. A good source to use when you have questions about player contracts

  24. By John The Draft Guy on Mar 31, 2015 | Reply

    Coach K,

    Mauldin’s game is similar to Okafor. A good guy without a burst.
    Can be a solid guy. I thought he did well for his size in coverage at the senior bowl week.
    Just not going to be a double digit sack guy.

    A forth round guy?

  25. By Coach K on Mar 31, 2015 | Reply


    Without a burst?

    Without a burst?

    Let’s see….

  26. By clssylssy on Mar 31, 2015 | Reply

    Really am looking forward to seeing Tyrann Mathieu have a “come back” season this year. Last year, I don’t think he anticipated his rehab being so lengthy and then just as he was beginning to get back to form, another injury with his thumb! I know he still has it and could be one of the leaders in the locker room as well as on the field. Recovery from serious injury is so different in the NFL with more pressure and more at stake, and I am a little leery about Carson Palmer’s ability to come back with the same intensity as before his injury despite what BA has said. I also seem to remember something about Drew Stanton having an infection in his knee which makes signing this guy from the Colts, Chandler Harnish a smart move. This time of year we need good camp bodies who may turn into good backups down the road (since we seem to be starting off at less than 100%) The fact that BA knows Harnish makes me wish we had gone this route last season because, as we learned, it’s always mart to have a backup for your backup plan. Even with Logan Thomas getting a lot more reps in training camp, and he has a good arm, is a good guy, etc., I agree with Coach K (or JTDG?) who was skeptical about how realistic it was to believe BA could turn a tight end into a QB in today’s NFL with all the restrictions of the CBA. I did find the NFL’s “Game Changers” program interesting and wondered if any of our players had participated and if not why not?
    It still wouldn’t surprise me to see us take a QB is there is somebody available that won’t be another project and could become our franchise QB.

  27. By Big Ken on Mar 31, 2015 | Reply

    The moon and stars need to be aligned, but a slight trade back would be great. Who though? Dallas, New Orleans, Patriots, Tampa Bay even. I’m not completely sold on Eli Harold at the 24th pick.

  28. By John The Draft Guy on Mar 31, 2015 | Reply

    Coach K,

    Thanks for the video, It proves my point. It show exactly what I said.

    I see good hands, power, stunts but a burst? Not really. He is most likely a DE instead of an OLB . But he could be a Okafor type OLB. Nothing wrong with that. He can set an edge and play the run.
    But I don’t see him as a top sack guy. Therefore, he doesn’t make it in my first two rounds of the draft.

  29. By Sean Coleman on Apr 1, 2015 | Reply

    D.Wash is the best linebacker in the game, he has paid his dues to society. An when you look at the report all he did was push a girl after she through a flower pot at his car and then attacked him. He was punished for spending time with his daughter and being a great father to his children and defending himself… Bring D.Wash back!!!!!! Me or my family will not attend another game if D.Wash isn’t out there.

  30. By Chuck 1 on Apr 1, 2015 | Reply

    Sean Coleman,

    “Best linebacker in the game”???
    Not even close.

  31. By Dr. G. on Apr 2, 2015 | Reply

    Carlo – – DWash can be a good player on the field as we have seen in the past…((if he is still in football shape..?)) But, he does not have credence from others to be a “”leader.”” …not happening…that is earned. I just hope the NFL cuts him loose;; I also hope that he is serious in his convictions, not the half-baked apologies of the past…

    This has just been a shameful black eye for the team, the fans and himself…..later

  32. By Dr. G. on Apr 2, 2015 | Reply

    clssy – – From historical medical prospective, it is rare indeed for a player to have immediate similar performance after rehab. It most common for the player to resume normal confidence and performance at least 2 years from the injury//surgery…speaking of torn ligaments repaired… We can look forward to Mathieu being back to his best this year. Last yea’s performance was not abnormal and cannot be a predictor of the future…later

    Coleman – – Re: DWash paying dues? All he got was probation from the criminal court..! That was a gift. His NFL suspension was really his own doing…he knew the consequences of thumbing his nose at the requests for testing, and of that 3rd toke session. You cannot explain away this in any way but “”stupidity.””

    I want to see him back, but someone posted that he should be dogged constantly so he does not punch the team in the eye again…later

  33. By clssylssy on Apr 2, 2015 | Reply

    Dr. G….thank you for your comment but you are preaching to the choir here! I am more intimately familiar with injuries and rehab, and the psychological aspects of recovery than most, and my comment was directed more as being supportive of Tyrann’s comeback in light of our many fans who have a tendency to be impatient, critical and possessing a “get right back up on the horse” mentality. I do believe that the majority of our fans expect Carson (and Drew) to comeback fully to their preinjury form which I don’t see as realistic and concerns me a bit about our depth at such a critical position. Considering all the players who will be coming back from injuries does make me more than a little skeptical about exactly how healthy we’ll be, our toughness, and our ability to stay healthy. It appears we need backups for our backups and then a contingency plan after than! The other factor that always is in the back of my mind is the tendency to put on weight while getting healthy, and while this can be a good thing as far as durability goes, it can cut down on speed and agility until the player gets used to playing with a new body.

  34. By Dr. G. on Apr 2, 2015 | Reply

    Cards Fans – – CLARIFYING – – By “”cutting him loose,”” I meant I would like to see DWash freed from additional sanctions; I think he has had enough penalty to now. His criminal probation should be completed soon. And AGAIN, if what he has told Jurecki is true, the NFL should let him play…but we need confirmation…later

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