Dec 21, 2013; Albuquerque, NM, USA; Washington State Cougars safety Deone Bucannon (20) returns an interception in the second quarter against the Colorado State Rams during the Gildan New Mexico Bowl at University Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys 2014 Draft: The Safety Prospect No One Is Talking About

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Dec 21, 2013; Albuquerque, NM, USA; Washington State Cougars safety Deone Bucannon (20) returns an interception in the second quarter against the Colorado State Rams during the Gildan New Mexico Bowl at University Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

When your talking about the top safety prospects in the upcoming NFL Draft, names like Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Louisville’s Calvin Pryor and Northern Illinois’ Jimmie Ward instantly come to mind. And as the Dallas Cowboys defensive backfield is in dire need for an upgrade at that position, these three names are the ones most commonly associated with the franchise. But now a new safety prospect has been thrown into the national spotlight.

ESPN Draft Guru Mel Kiper Jr. opened some eyes on Thursday with his latest mock draft predictions. Pertaining to the Cowboys second round pick, Kiper predicted Dallas would choose safety Deone Bucannon, out of Washington State. Here’s what the longtime draft expert had to say about the relatively unknown prospect:

“The Cowboys’ current depth chart has J.J. Wilcox and Barry Church as starters at safety, and the experienced Bucannon, one of the biggest hitters in the draft, is a player who can get on the field early.”

The big plus with Bucannon is his physical stature. The 6-1, 211 lb safety is said to be built like a brick house. He’s described as an explosive hitter who actually thrives on contact. And his 4.49 speed makes him rangy. Sporting an impressive 78-inch wingspan, Bucannon had an impressive six interceptions last season for Washington State.

Sounds like the perfect Cowboys safety right? So why haven’t we heard more about him? The knocks on Bucannon include his lack of flexibility. He struggles against shifty receivers/running backs. And he’s kind of a boom or bust guy. Bucannon will either make the big hit…or the big miss. Deone also struggles with his peripheral vision, often focusing solely on the ball carrier and ignoring the fact he could have his head knocked off by potential blockers.

CBSSports.com has Bucannon ranked as the second best strong safety available in next month’s draft, behind only Northern Illinois’ Ward. And they expect him to be selected between the second and third round.

In Kiper’s draft, all three of the other top ranked safeties were off-the-board before the Cowboys second round selection. Personally, I’m a bigger fan of Brock Vereen, the safety out of Minnesota. Although he’s much more rough around the edges, I feel if you can’t land one of the top three safeties in this draft, then a developmental player taken in the later rounds is the better way to go.

Vereen is a solid safety prospect who’s a projected fifth round pick that has direct bloodline connections to the NFL. His older brother, Shane Vereen, is a running back for the New England Patriots. And his father, Henry, was a NFL receiver drafted back in 1979 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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Tags: 2014 NFL Draft Brock Vereen Dallas Cowboys Deone Bucannon Safety

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