Falcons Agree to Terms With Ex-Giants, Bucs Hybrid Linebacker

Deone Bucannon

Getty Outside linebacker Deone Bucannon #23 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

On Thursday, the Atlanta Falcons announced that they’ve agreed to terms with linebacker Deone Bucannon. Bucannon most recently split from the New York Giants.

The former Washington State star will be the sixth former first-round pick that the Falcons have signed this offseason.

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Former First-Round Pick

Bucannon was considered to be a top safety prospect heading into the 2014 NFL Draft. Arizona selected him as their No. 27 pick where he spent five seasons as a Cardinal. Bucannon is a hybrid defender, just what the Falcons are looking for.

In Arizona, Bucannon played at safety and linebacker. He recorded 406 tackles, 27 tackles for a loss, 12 pass defenses, seven forced fumbles, and two interceptions.

Right after Arizona picked up his fifth-year option in 2017, Bucannon underwent ankle surgery. Coming back in 2018, Bucannon had a career-low of 38 tackles and one sack.

Tampa Bay gave Bucannon a chance where he played a large role on special teams in the first half of the 2019 season before heading to New York. He became a part of the Giants’ defensive rotation. Bucannone played in nine games with one start and recorded 25 tackles.

Falcons On Track With Versitality

The Falcons continue to stay on track with adding versatility to their defense. Teams are now looking for faster and more athletic linebackers and safeties as opposed to bigger, stronger, and slower ones of traditional, past rosters.

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff told AtlantaFalcons.com is all for strongly interchange safeties and linebackers.

“You get athletic safeties out there, you can interchange them,” Dimitroff said. “We have to be versatile. We have to have numbers at corners and safeties, guys who can move. It’s not just about the old in-the-box safety that can nut up on people. That person will be isolated at times when they’re trying to cover a tight end or a running back. You have to be adept enough in coverage.”

Falcons Lose Leading Tackler

Atlanta lost their top tackler in free agency, De’Vondre Campbell but are confident in Foye Olukon to step up and fill the void as a starter.

Last season he didn’t see as much playing time but when he did, he didn’t disappoint. He had a career-high coverage grade against the Arizona Cardinals with a 90.6. His overall grade at the end of the season was 62.7, the second-highest of all Falcons linebackers and 37th in the NFL.

The Falcons also added ex-Rams linebacker Dante Fowler and Fresno State standout, Mykal Walker in the fourth round of the 2020 draft. Walker is another versatile player to joining the team.

In Walker’s case, he can be can excel at both middle linebacker or strong-side linebacker. Although, Walker said he’s not sure where the Falcons where use him but says he will play anywhere they want him to.

Bucannon will most likely be competing with another veteran linebacker, LaRoy Reynolds. However, Bucannon’s ability to fill multiple holes will give him an advantage.

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