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WSU safety Deone Bucannon picked 27th by Cardinals

By Brent Stecker

The Legion of Boom’s influence was all over the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, and one of the biggest beneficiaries was Washington State product Deone Bucannon.

Deone Bucannon is the first player from Washington State chosen in the first round since Marcus Trufant in 2003. (AP)

The Cardinals took the former Cougars strong safety with the 27th overall pick Thursday, making him the seventh of nine defensive backs to be taken in the first round.

At 6-foot-1 and 211 pounds, Bucannon is in the mold of the bigger defensive backs the Super Bowl champion Seahawks have turned into the rage in the NFL. In fact, Bucannon has been garnering comparisons to Kam Chancellor, and has acknowledged how Seattle’s hard-hitting enforcer has shown NFL teams that bigger safeties can cover. Now as a member of the Cardinals, Bucannon finds himself in the same division as the man who paved the way for him to be a first-round selection.

“I want to show the fans and I want to show the team and most of all I want to show the coaches that this was a great choice,” Bucannon said in a post-draft conference call.

One look at the Cardinals’ secondary gives the impression they’re aiming to rival the Legion of Boom in terms of intimidation and pure talent. In addition to Bucannon, they boast two-time All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson, free safety Tyrann Mathieu, and three-time Pro Bowl corner Antonio Cromartie, who signed a one-year free-agent deal with the team this offseason. Post-draft comments from Arizona’s front office support that idea as well.

“The guy’s a headhunter. He’s extremely physical,” Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said. “I don’t want to mention him in the same breath as (former Cardinals Pro Bowl safety) Adrian Wilson, but there are some physical similarities and the same type of mentality that we were looking for.”

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians expects Bucannon to be at home in the rough-and-tumble NFC West.

“In our division you’d better like to hit,” Arians said. “He brings passion. That’s what I loved about him.”

For his part, Bucannon sounds like he’s ready for life in the most physical division in the NFL.

“I’m an aggressive person. I love being around the ball,” he said. “I’m not afraid to go in there and stick my nose in anything, in anybody. It doesn’t matter how big you are, I’m coming downhill regardless.”

Bucannon took first-team All-American honors in his senior year at WSU, a season in which he picked off six passes and made a Pac-12-leading 114 tackles. He also registered double-digit tackles in four games.

He finished his college career with 384 tackles, fourth-most in program history, and 15 interceptions, third-most at WSU. He was a three-time All-Pac-12 selection.