We’re in the depths of the offseason here at The Falcoholic, and there has been little to nothing in the way of interesting news in ages. So, we’ll have to make some content of our own in the meantime. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be bringing you a new Player Profile series where we’ll take a look at each of the players on Atlanta’s roster. I’ll break down their measurables, past production, and try to project their 2020 season with the Falcons.
After taking a look at the projected starters, we now turn our attention to the depth on the Falcons’ roster. Today, I’ll be discussing LB Deone Bucannon—a veteran and former first-round pick who will provide experience and athleticism for a young LB corps in Atlanta.
LB Deone Bucannon
Age: 27 (28 during 2020 season)
Contract: $750K cap hit in 2020, free agent in 2021
Career Production: 84 games played, 57 games started | 434 total tackles, 28.0 TFL, 7.0 sacks, 7 FF | 12 PD, 2 INT | 54.5 overall PFF grade
2019 Production: 14 games played, 1 game started | 28 total tackles, 1.0 TFL, 9.7% missed tackle rate | 66.7% completion rate allowed, 115.6 passer rating allowed | 53.8 overall PFF rating
After losing long-time starter De’Vondre Campbell in free agency, the Falcons were facing the potential of a drastically different LB corps in 2020. Deion Jones remained as the shining star in the middle of the defense, but outside of former sixth-round pick Foyesade Oluokun, there were pretty significant question marks at the position. Adding Mykal Walker in the fourth round was a good start, but the team still needed reliable depth. The late addition of veteran Deone Bucannon was a strong step in the right direction.
Bucannon began his career as a first-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals in 2014, primarily playing strong safety in his rookie season. He struggled as a pure safety, however, posting a below-average 49.7 PFF grade. In 2015, he was moved into the hybrid “moneybacker” role that would largely define his career—and thrived in it. Bucannon posted a career-high PFF grade of 68.8 in 2015 and a 61.4 in 2016. However, he finished the 2016 season on IR and was never quite the same player in Arizona. He graded out poorly in an injury-plagued 2017 season and lost his starting job in 2018.
Bucannon bounced around a bit in 2019, spending time with both the Buccaneers and Giants. In a depth role (about 20% of the snaps), Bucannon was a solid backup but not much else. While he clearly never lived up to his first-round billing, Bucannon can still be a useful player—particularly in a defense like Atlanta’s. The Falcons have never cared about size in the LB corps and will likely give Bucannon far more opportunities to move around and use his speed and range to make plays. Bucannon is still just 28 years old and has excellent athleticism for a LB, which could make him a valuable rotational piece in 2020.
Projection: While Deone Bucannon is unlikely to seriously challenge Foye Oloukun or rookie Mykal Walker for a starting role in the defense, he is likely to be the first man up in case of injuries and should have a prominent role on special teams. Bucannon is still a plus athlete and could have a strong season in an Atlanta defense that is designed to play to his strengths.