Last season, Deone Bucannon moved from safety to linebacker full time despite weighing just 211 pounds. He ultimately had a season to remember and carved an important role in this defense going forward.
Bucannon arrived at Cardinals Camp 2016 at 222 pounds adding a ton of mass and muscle this offseason looking more like a linebacker than ever. He worked himself this summer and says a work ethic in the weight room is something he’s had long before arriving in Arizona.
“In college I was real skinny and one day I decided that if I wanted to be at the next level and be serious about this, I need to get in the weight room,” said Bucannon. “I used to be 169 pounds going into my sophomore year of college going into my junior year and decided ‘if this is what you want, you’ve got to dig down deep and got to get it.'”
“From then on, I kind of loved the weight room,” he added. “I just feel like I want to be better and be the best that I can be and I’ve got to do my part because if I don’t do mine, how can I expect anyone else to do theirs?”
That hardest part of adding all this weight and mass is keeping it on when all the running begins at camp and in the season. In addition, when adding all that muscle, at the same time you don’t want to diminish your speed if you are Bucannon. Which was something on his mind when he hit the weight room hard every day this summer.
“That’s why you’ve got to keep that you know in the middle,” Bucannon explained. “You can’t get too heavy but you can’t get too light. That’s the thing. I can put on all this weight but that’s not going to help me out. My game is unique I feel as far as my speed goes what I can do in the box as far as covering receivers, tight ends or running backs. I want to be able to keep my skill set but at the same time be physical.”
Something else that had Bucannon in the news this offseason was NFL teams drafting undersized linebackers or safeties to make into “hybrid linebackers” after seeing the success the Cardinals have had with their former first round pick out of Washington State. Su’a Cravens was drafted by the Washington Redskins 53rd overall out of USC for example to play a similar role.
Bucannon said he has noticed the quick trend but it is the play of safeties before him that have given teams the confidence to do it.
“I’ve kind of seen that but at the same time, yes I am one of the first to play full time at that spot but I feel like there have been a bunch of other safeties the have led the way to be able to have me be able to have the confidence to have the Cardinals put me in that spot,” stated Bucannon. “Adrian Wilson, A dub, that was a big thing coming in was for me to play like him and that’s the blue print. A dub, Cam Chancellor, Troy Polamalu, there’s a bunch of bug time players that made a lot of their plays in the box blitzing, covering tight ends, covering running backs. I feel like that paved the way for the Cardinals to have the confidence to put me in that position.”
When all is said and done, it would be a great thing for both Bucannon and the Cardinals that his name is ultimately said along with those he mentioned.