Size - 5106 - 197 - 4.49
Strong Points - Productive, instincts, run support and tackle, can play man on a slot, zone, ball reactions and hands, range
Weak Points - Has a foot injury that requires surgery and will prevent him from doing any private workouts, lacks ideal size for the position, doesn't play to timed speed
2013 Stats: 95 total tackles, seven interceptions, one sack
Summation - Ward is a fourth-year senior and a three-year starter for the Huskies. As a freshman in 2010, he played in every game and was an outstanding special teams' performer with three blocked kicks. He became a fulltime starter at safety in 2011
In 2012 tape, he played closer to the line of scrimmage, in short, he was more of a box safety. He still played deep at times and was put in man coverage situations on an inside receiver. In 2013, while he still played up tight at times, it wasn't as often. He was still used to cover inside receivers.
Ward has good athleticism. He is quick with good change of direction, a good turn, and good overall body control. He timed 4.49 at his pro day, but I don't see that speed on the field. He played more like a 4.55 type.
Ward is a quick reactor with good instincts. He shows good anticipation and is around the ball. He is effective as a run support player, showing the ability to take on and shed blocks and is a consistent tackler. He is used to blitz at times and does a good job coming off the edge.
When in man coverage, he shows the turn and mirror skills needed. He has a good jam and does well versus shorter routes. He doesn't have the long speed to consistently cover deep, but has good ball reactions and closes well to make plays.
In zone, he shows good awareness. He has the anticipation and range to get to the sideline from the hash. For the most part, he keeps plays in front of him and does not get beaten deep. I did see him blow a coverage in their Bowl game versus Utah State. He was beaten deep but was able to recover and get the PBU.
Overall, Ward has the instincts and skills to be an eventual starting strong safety in the NFL. He lacks ideal size, and the fact that he needs foot surgery will hurt his draft value. I see him as a solid third round type, with the injury potentially dropping him to the fourth.
Deone Bucannon – Safety – Washington State
Size – 6010 – 211 – 4.49
Strong Points – Very good size, interception production, run support, can try to be physical, zone coverage, plays on special teams' coverage units
Weak Points – Misses a lot of tackles (seven in first three games viewed), doesn't consistently take good angles, has some tightness in his hips, not playing to timed speed
2013 Stats – 114 total tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, six interceptions for 110 return yards
Summation – Bucannon has been a starter since midway through his freshman year at Washington State. He has excellent size at 6010 – 207 to go along with very good timed speed (4.49 at combine). While he tests out very well, he doesn’t play that way. He looks more like a 4.55 guy on tape and has some tightness in his hips that hurts his ability to turn quickly in man coverage.
Bucannon has good, not great instincts. He will misdiagnose some things, and at times, can be a little late to read. Still, he is often around the ball and makes plays.
He is usually a good run support player who will come up and try and make plays in the box. He can get out of control and is not a top tackler. While he makes a lot of tackles, he also misses a lot. He doesn’t wrap up and often lowers his head and loses sight of his target.
When in coverage, he is best in zone. He gets depth and usually does a good job keeping plays in front of him. He has range and awareness. I saw a couple of interceptions where a teammate was beaten, yet he got over to make the play. He has good hands and can adjust to the ball.
He is inconsistent in man. He doesn’t have the hips or suddenness needed to mirror with any consistency. He is best versus shorter routes. He can struggle with a speedy, athletic receiver, and his transition is just average.
Bucannon is an interesting guy. He makes plays and is aggressive but he also gives up or misses too many plays. He has to settle down and concentrate more. I see him as a strong safety at the next level with a solid chance to be an eventual starter. He should go somewhere in the third or fourth round.
Grade B 6.5
Craig Loston – Safety
Loston is a fifth year senior and two year starter. Like Barrow, in the seasons he wasn’t starting, he was still getting a lot of play time as a backup. While Loston has been a durable performer throughout his career, he has already missed two games this year with injury.
On the hoof, Loston looks like the perfect safety. He has size (about 6’2-210), can run (4.50 play speed) and is both strong and explosive. I thought that he was reacting better on 2012 tape than he has to date in 2013. He has adequate instincts and can be a physical player. With his size and strength, he can be a force in run support. He comes up quickly, shows he can get rid of blocks, and is an aggressive tackler. In pursuit he takes good angles and has the catchup speed to get to the play.
In pass coverage, he shows he can play both man and zone. He has the feet and hips to lock on to a TE, back, or receiver in man coverage and show good mirror skills. He shows awareness in zone and usually does a good job keeping plays in front of him. His reactions in zone aren’t quite as quick as they are in man. In transition, he has no wasted steps and usually plays the ball well.
I see Loston as an eventual starter at the next level. He is going to need some time and coaching, but by his third year he should be a solid starter. He has the tools to be a very good special teams player while he is developing.
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