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Safety watch: Deone Bucannon

3/7/2014

ESPN’s Todd McShay has the Steelers taking Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix with their first-round pick in his latest mock draft.

The Steelers could go a number of different ways with the 15th overall pick, and even if they use it on another position, they will take a safety at some point in the draft.

A potential safety target for the Steelers after the first round is Washington State’s Deone Bucannon.

The 6-foot-1, 216-pounder stood out to ESPN draft analyst Steve Muench when the latter broke down tape of the defensive backs in this year’s draft.

Muench compared Bucannon to 49ers safety Eric Reid, a first-round pick last year who made the Pro Bowl as a rookie.

Here is what Muench wrote in praising Bucannon’s all-around game:

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.

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.

On the downside, he can get caught out of position biting on play-action or gambling in an effort to make a play. He also has tighter hips that make it tough for him to mirror receivers getting in and out of breaks. He has a similar height-weight-speed ratio to the 49ers' 2013 first-round pick and No. 18 overall, safety Eric Reid out of LSU, but Bucannon's not as fluid.

Muench projects Bucannon as a second-round pick and a player who still should be available when the Steelers make their second pick in the 2014 draft.