- Associated Press - Friday, May 9, 2014

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) - Crediting his upbringing in a military family for his passion for the game, Deone Bucannon was introduced as the Arizona Cardinals‘ first-round draft pick in a thoughtful, insightful news conference.

A big-hitting strong safety, whose thumping exploits are widely available in online videos, Bucannon was selected 27th overall on Thursday after the Cardinals traded down from the No. 20 spot, getting New Orleans’ first-round pick and a third-round selection.

He is the highest drafted player from Washington State since Seattle took cornerback Marcus Trufant at No. 11 in 2003.

At his Friday news conference, Bucannon acknowledged pre-draft reports that he had trouble in pass coverage.

“Everybody has their own opinion,” he said. “Everybody thinks they know about different things. I could throw out all my stats right now, but that’s not going to help anybody. That’s not going to make you guys believe any more.”

But, he said, “In my heart, I feel I can do anything.”

If he works out at strong safety, Arizona would field an impressive secondary, once Tyrann Mathieu returns to free safety after recovering from major knee surgery. Patrick Peterson is at one cornerback, with recently signed free agent Antonio Cromartie at the other.

Bucannon broke down in front of his family when the Cardinals called him and told him they were going to select him. Of the 20 teams that looked at him, the Cardinals were by far his favorite destination, he said.

That desire had its roots in a dinner he had with general manager Steve Keim and other members of the Cardinals‘ top brass.

“They were not only talking to me as a player, but as a person,” Bucannon said. “They cared about what I did off the field. We were just talking about life. It wasn’t just about football.”

Bucannon’s passion for football went a long way toward convincing the Cardinals he should be their pick. He traced that to his family, where his father was a Marine and his mother in the Navy.

“My dad told me, ‘Don’t play this game if you’re just going through the motions,” he said. “That’s not why I play this game. I play this game because I love it. I love the camaraderie. I love making plays for my team.”

The big hits, Bucannon said, come naturally, from his start in Pop Warner football to high school, then college.

Keim called him “a headhunter,” and Bucannon is aware of the NFL’s rules regarding nasty hits.

“I’m not going to sacrifice any of what got me here, through my aggressiveness and playmaking ability, and I’m still going to do that on the field,” he said.

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