The Arizona Cardinals were high on Washington State safety Deone Bucannon, so they drafted the all-around playmaker in the late first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Projected as a second or third-round pick, it’s clear that the Cardinals are high on him, but it looks like they will be playing him in a different role in his rookie year- at least initially.
ESPN NFL Nation’s Josh Weinfuss reports that underrated second-year Oklahoma Sooners product Tony Jefferson will start at strong safety opposite of standout FS Tyrann Mathieu, and it’s a decision that would have come as a surprise in the early summer. The Cardinals seem to prefer Bucannon in a dime linebacker role, which is something the New England Patriots frequently use. Bucannon would be able to focus on making plays in nickel and dime packages by moving up closer to the line of scrimmage and covering slot receivers or tight ends as needed.
Jefferson recorded just 23 tackles as a rookie, but he’s a talented safety who fell in the 2013 NFL Draft due to a slow forty time, amid other concerns. He showed real ball-hawking ability in college, and he can feasibly feature as either a strong or free safety on the Cardinals defense. They are four-deep at the position heading into the year, as backup FS Rashad Johnson is a nice role player.