Deone Bucannon came out of Washington State in 2014 as a 6-1, 211-pound strong safety who was known more for his hard hits than his coverage skills.
In fact, after the Arizona Cardinals drafted him 27th in the first round, they installed him in the middle of their defense at an inside linebacker position and he made the All-Rookie team.
Last year, Bucannon -- listed on the official NFL Gamebook as a $LB at an inside spot among four linebackers -- led the Cardinals against the Steelers with seven tackles, including two for loss. One, on third-and-1, dropped Le'Veon Bell for a five-yard loss, and the other, on second-and-2, dropped DeAngelo Williams for a one-yard loss.
Mike Tomlin hadn't even mentioned Bucannon in his normally exhaustive pre-game breakdown of the Cardinals, but Tomlin's actions would speak much louder than any words if he drafts Bucannon II at the end of the month.
That player, Duke strong safety Jeremy Cash, visited the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on Friday along with Miami FS Deon Bush, Georgia Tech CB D.J. White and LSU OT Jerald Hawkins.
Cash, of course, is the most intriguing player of the four and is expected to be drafted the earliest.
The 6-0 1/2, 212-pounder was called the "strike" safety at Duke but rarely played any position resembling safety. He may as well have had that dollar sign in front of a linebacker label because Cash was not only money, he was a linebacker through and through.
His tackles stats the past three years as a starter -- since transferring from Ohio State -- are impressive: 332 tackles, 38 tackles-for-loss, nine forced fumbles, eight sacks and five forced fumbles. He intercepted only five passes, none last season.
Cash was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2015 in spite of missing his bowl game with a wrist injury, which, along with a hamstring issue, caused him to miss workouts at the Combine and his pro day.
The medical check is likely one reason the Steelers brought him in for a visit. The other is to size him up for a possible second-round selection. He's a hard-hitting, instinctive box player who could perhaps replace Lawrence Timmons on pass downs, if not this season than the next.
Of course, Cash disagrees on the perception that he's just a box player.
"The Senior Bowl really did shed some light on the fact that I'm not just an in-the-box player, I do have that range of motion," he said at the Combine. "The biggest thing was, and still is, getting the reps under my belt. I have, what, four years down in the box. Throughout this whole process in preparation for the NFL draft, I've been working more in half-field and middle-field safety."
Cash, who's finishing up his Masters in Liberal Studies, will turn 24 on Dec. 9.
Bush (6-0.3, 199, 4.64, 17 reps, 36 vertical), from Miami, is an aggressive free safety who, if he's in the right spot, can blow up a receiver and the ball simultaneously. He's a quick-twitched, aggressive presence who needs work on technique and football IQ. The former Hurricanes captain has nine career forced fumbles and four interceptions.
White (5-10.7, 193, 4.49, 17 reps, 33 vertical, 11-0 broad, 4.33 short shuttle) is a later-round corner whose brains and leadership could allow him to make the roster and eventually compete for a spot in a predominant cover-2 scheme.
Hawkins (6-6, 309, 34 1/4-inch arms) is a long tackle with some talent and a strong punch but is a bit tight-hipped and his thin waist could cause power problems in his base.
A captain at LSU, Hawkins started at right tackle for two years before moving to left tackle last year as a redshirt junior. He could become a solid fourth-round project for a quality line coach such as Mike Munchak.