The pairing of Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Louisville's Calvin Pryor as the NFL draft's top two safety prospects, and probably the only two safeties to be chosen in the first round, has been thematic thinking for weeks among draft experts. But NFL Network's Curtis Conway sees three first-round talents at the position. And while he didn't compare Washington State's Deone Bucannon to Pryor and Clinton-Dix directly, the former Chicago Bears first-round pick was clear that Bucannon belongs in any conversation about elite safeties.
"I like Atlanta picking him. If you don't go tight end (with the Falcons' second-rounder), you definitely go Deone Bucannon," Conway said Thursday night on NFLN's "Path to the Draft."
Atlanta's second-rounder is the No. 37 overall choice, by which time Pryor and Clinton-Dix figure to be long since off the board. The Falcons lost safety Thomas DeCoud, who signed with the Carolina Panthers, in free agency. And general manager Thomas Dimitroff's offseason focus on toughening Atlanta's play on the line of scrimmage -- which began with a couple of free-agent additions -- could be completed with the club's first pick at No. 6 overall.
If so, that could leave the Falcons free to address an area away from the line of scrimmage at No. 37.
"I think he's a first-round talent. Arguably the fastest safety in the draft, the strongest safety in the draft, and I think he can play free or strong," Conway added. "He's a hitter ... he's got ball skills, he'll come up and smack you."
Conway suggested that Bucannon's relative anonymity playing at Washington State has contributed to his underrated status. He has plenty of size at 6-1, 211 pounds, and was all over the field for the Cougars last season with team-highs in tackles (114), interceptions (six) and forced fumbles (three).
Nothing anonymous about that.