Bucannon drafted with hefty comparison

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Steve Keim hesitated for a second.

Deone Bucannon had been an Arizona Cardinals draft pick for barely 15 minutes when general manager Keim tried to avoid the comparison, but it was hard to talk around it.

"I don't want to mention him in the same breath as Adrian Wilson, but there are some physical similarities and the same type of mentality that we were looking for," Keim said.

"[Bucannon] is a headhunter and he's extremely physical."

Around the team's headquarters, Wilson is revered, held in the same esteem saved for only those in Arizona's ring of honor. Wilson will be there someday, but Thursday night hadn't even finished before Bucannon had his first taste of the NFL's overhyped expectations.

While Bucannon is years away from reaching Wilson's level, he'll enter the league in his shadow but with a similar reputation. Bucannon built his draft stock by hitting. He had 100 or more tackles in his last two seasons at Washington State.

"In our division, you better like to hit," Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. "That's one of the things, he brings passion and that's what we loved about him. He plays with a lot of passion and he's going to be a great fit in our locker room.

"He's a humble kid who just loves to play the game and wants to learn from the best and we've got some good guys here to teach him and give him opportunities to knock the crap out of people in our division."

But it wasn't his physicality that initially attracted Keim.

He watched Bucannon run a 4.48-second 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis last February and instantly knew he'd be the Cardinals' primary target. Then Keim looked at Bucannon's résumé and watched his tape. He was sold. A four-year starter for the Cougars, Bucannon had 15 interceptions -- six as a senior -- and made 222 plays against the run throughout his career.

At 6-foot-1, 211 pounds, Bucannon was a prospect Keim didn't want to miss on. Yet, he almost did -- on his own accord. The Cardinals traded out of the 20th spot with Bucannon still on the board. They flipped first-round picks with the New Orleans Saints, taking over the 27th pick and adding the 91st. But waiting for them near the end of the first round was the hard-hitting, long-range safety Arizona has needed.

"I'm a playmaker," Bucannon said. "I'm an aggressive person. I love being around the ball. I'm going to do whatever it takes to help the team.

"I'm here to complement my team and hopefully they'll be able to feed off my playmaking and my aggressive energy," he added. "I'm not afraid to go in there and stick my nose in anything or anybody. It doesn't matter how big you are, I'm coming downhill regardless. I'm not going to change my style of play. I just want to bring a change of pace to the team."