GREEN BAY, Wis. -- For the past several weeks, many have been operating under the assumption that one of the top two safeties in this year's draft would be available to the Green Bay Packers in the first round.
However, based on ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay’s most recent mock draft, which was unveiled on Thursday, that no longer appears to be the case. McShay projected that both Louisville's Calvin Pryor and Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will be gone before the Packers are on the clock at No. 21.
But that doesn't mean their chance of getting an immediate-impact safety in the draft has been lost. Washington State's Deone Bucannon has caught the eye of many scouts and could be someone the Packers would consider, if not at No. 21 then perhaps in the second round.
Steve Muench, who analyzes the draft as part of the ESPN Insider team, broke down Bucannon’s strengths and weakness. Without giving away the store, here's some of what Muench (who has worked for Scouts Inc. since 2002), had to say about the 6-foot-1, 216-pound Bucannon:
"He has the upper body strength and arm length to play in the box in addition to the closing burst to get downhill when he lines up deep. The occasional missed tackle in space and bad angle show up, but they aren't repetitively glaring issues.
"Bucannon isn't a one-dimensional run stopper either. He ran a 4.49 40 at the combine, and it's an accurate reflection of the speed you see on tape. He has the range to play a center fielder-type role over the top and he can run with most slot receivers, let alone tight ends."
Perhaps the part the Packers would like best about Bucannon is his ability to play the ball. The Packers were the only team in the NFL last season that did not get an interception from the safety position. They almost certainly will be looking to upgrade the free safety spot, where M.D. Jennings started last season. Jennings is a restricted free agent who has not yet been tendered an offer.
In that regard, Muench said:
“His greatest strength may be his ability to change the complexion of a game. He's a turnover machine who intercepted 15 passes and forced seven fumbles in four seasons at Washington State. A heavy hitter, he has the closing burst, ball skills and aggressive nature to continue to make impact plays at the next level.”