Most of the scouting reports on Washington State strong safety Deone Bucannon said the same thing: A big hitter who is one of the best players for a middling program, but a guy who can't run all that well.
Bucannon (6-foot-1, 211 pounds) dispelled one of the biggest knocks against him at the NFL Scouting Combine with a clocking of 4.49 seconds in the 40-yard dash -- the fastest among the strong safeties in Indianapolis and tied for third-fastest among all the safeties. Bucannon (his first name is pronounced DAY-own, his last name like that of NFL Hall of Famer Buck Buchanan) ran faster than both of the top free safeties: Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Louisville's Calvin Pryor were clocked in 4.58 seconds.
"I feel like with my big frame and my bigger body, it's kind of clouded a lot of people who don't see the fluidity," Bucannon told the Seattle Times. "But I feel like I am actually moving better than a lot of people think, and I am going to continue to get better as far as that aspect."
No one ever has questioned Bucannon's tackling ability -- and his ability to lay the lumber. He finished his career with 348 tackles, fourth-most in school history; he led the Pac-12 with 114 stops as a senior in 2013. Bucannon also tied for the league lead with six interceptions, and he finished his career with 15. He also had seven forced fumbles in his career.
His combine performance could lead to a shakeup at the top of the strong safety rankings for some analysts. Bucannon's competition for the best strong safety in the draft is Northern Illinois' Jimmie Ward, who didn't participate in any events at the combine because of a minor foot injury. Ward measured almost 5-11 and 193 pounds, meaning Bucannon is a bit more than two inches taller and almost 20 pounds heavier. Ward is scheduled to run at NIU's pro day Friday, but his expected 40 time is expected to be in the high 4.5/low 4.6 range.
Both should go as early as the second round; the order could be determined by how well Ward performs Friday. Ward also is a big hitter who finished with 317 career tackles and 11 interceptions, including seven in 2013.