The Atlanta Falcons front office has been quite busy this offseason, showing a very clear focus on improving on the defensive side of the ball. Now they’ve added former 2014 first round draft pick Deone Bucannon.
I was actually a fan of Bucannon coming out of Washington State as a safety. He was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals and definitely showed promise at the start of his career in the hybrid S/LB role. He’s yet another low risk signing by the Falcons that is looking to resurrect his career under a different environment. However, we do want to better understand what his signing means for this defense. Quite simply, I believe it means depth and experience at position(s) of need.
Bucannon represents what the Falcons are showing a heavy interest in for all of their players: versatility. At 6’1” and about 211 lbs, Bucannon is still relatively small for today’s standard LB, but he’s shown the ability to play in the box and be physical inside along with having solid coverage ability as a safety. Actually, Bucannon represents what Quinn likes in his LBs with his sideline to sideline speed, coverage ability and physicality.
Bucannon will add valuable experience at LB for a Falcons team that needed it at the position behind presumptive starters Deion Jones and Foye Oluokun. It’s also likely that Bucannon could be used in big nickel sets due to his versatility. Newly drafted rookie Mykal Walker is eventually going to be the starter to replace what they lost in Campbell, but Bucannon is still a youngish and capable player that can fill in at LB if/when needed, so Walker can be brought along at a steady pace. Like Kemal Ishmael before him, he should be able to fill in at safety if required, but hopefully injury doesn’t strike the position.
If all goes well health wise on the defensive side of the ball, Bucannon should see minimal playing time and spend most of his time on special teams. Could he carve out a bigger role on the defense? Possibly, but it’s certainly clear that Bucannon will be a much needed depth piece for the Falcons on defense, either way.