2014 NFL Draft: Pac-12 Conference Sleepers to Watch

Deandre Coleman could thrive as a defensive tackle in California’s switch to a 4-3 defense this season, and if he does, his draft stock could soar. (Photo: Jason O. Watson — USA Today Sports)

BBD Staff Writer: Joseph Curtis

The Pacific-12 Conference has been one of the most consistent producers of NFL talent in recent years. Throughout the past five drafts, the Pac-12 has averaged more than 29 players selected.

Led by premier talent such as USC wide receiver Marqise Lee, Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr, the Pac-12 should continue to be one of the top talent-producing conferences of the 2014 NFL draft. In addition to their top prospects, they have many lesser-known prospects who could make names for themselves this season.

Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State

It’s easy to overlook a team who hasn’t won more than four games in a season since 2007, but Deone Bucannon is an interesting prospect in the Washington State secondary.

Bucannon has decent size, listed at 6’1” and 198 pounds, but could add some bulk to his frame. He has added more than ten pounds since his freshman season and should continue to do so. He has decent speed for a safety but accelerates well and has a quick closing burst.

At times, however, his reckless style of play has gotten him into trouble.

Last season, the Pac-12 suspended Bucannon for the first half of WSU’s matchup with UNLV for a late hit to the head of Eastern Washington wide receiver Greg Herd that resulted in a personal foul. Herd suffered a concussion on the play.

After entering the UNLV game in the second half, he committed another personal foul after another late hit to receiver.

This wild, reckless style of play will result in many fines in the NFL and if Bucannon cannot learn to control it, it could cost him his shot at the next level. However, if he does learn to hone his aggressive play and plays smarter, he will intrigue NFL scouts.

Bucannon has good instincts and plays extremely well with the ball in front of him. However, he occasionally hesitates and loses players on deep routes without the recovery speed to catch them.

He is a solid centerfielder who can make plays on balls over the middle. He led Washington State in interceptions last season with four.

Bucannon is a ready and willing tackler in run support. While he doesn’t have the best tackling technique, he generally gets the job done and will make most tackles. He finished fourth in the conference in tackles per game last season.

Entering his senior season, Bucannon is one of the leaders of the Cougars. During spring practices, he was the clear leader on Washington State’s defense, according to ESPN’s Kevin Gemmel.

Bucannon is a prospect that does everything good but nothing great. He is worthy of a draft spot and could go much earlier than most expect at this point. He is a mid-to-late round selection at this time with the possibility of sneaking into the early mid-rounds.

Deandre Coleman, DT, California

With new head coach Sonny Dykes’ regime switching the California defense from a 3-4 to a 4-3, Deandre Coleman could be on the verge of a breakout season.

Coleman played defensive end in Jeff Tedford’s 3-4 defense, but Coleman is more suited to play inside in an even front. His lack of lateral agility and speed was exposed on the edge but should be masked now playing inside.

Listed at 6’5” and 320 pounds, he has exceptional size for a tackle. He moves off the snap quickly and gets his hands in good initial position. From there, he can use his strength to overpower most offensive linemen or continue to fight with his hands to push the blocker back.

He does a good job of knocking back blockers and collapsing the pocket, but he doesn’t seem to get into the backfield very often. It will be interesting to see if he can improve his ability to consistently penetrate the offensive line at his new position.

Overall, Coleman is stout at the point of attack and does a good job against the run. He shows the ability to get by blockers but he does not seem to contribute much against the pass.

Coleman currently stands as a mid-round pick. If he can thrive in Cal’s new system, his stock could go as high as a late-first round pick.

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Tags: Andrew Furney, Boseko Lokombo, California, Cameron Fleming, Danny Shelton, Deandre Coleman, Deone Bucannon, Josh Huff, Kasen Williams, Oregon, Oregon State, Pac 12, Prospects to Watch, Rashaad Reynolds, Sean Parker, Sleepers, Stanford, Washington, Washington State

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