DeForest Buckner, DL
School: Oregon | Conference: PAC-12
College Experience: Senior | Age: 21 (unconfirmed)
Height / Weight: 6-7 / 281 lbs (per ESPN Insider Draft Profile and NFL.com)
Projected Draft Status: Early-Mid 1st Round
NFL Comparison: Arik Armstead
First and foremost, DeForest Buckner is an athlete. He plays football, and he does so quite well, but the man is a physical freak. It varies based on who you ask, but he's often listed at 6-foot-7, 281 pounds — and he looks every bit of it.
Buckner surprised many by returning to Oregon for his senior season, as he was projected to be a first-round pick in 2015, but he dramatically increased his production and was named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year this season. He set career bests in tackles (solo and total), tackles for a loss, sacks and passes defended, and he did so despite playing two fewer games than he did the year prior.
- Well, his strength. And his overall athletic ability. It's evident in just about any play of any game, but to get the full effect just throw on one of his highlight clips. Almost every play he makes is due to blockers being simply overwhelmed by his size.
- His size, and especially his long arms, make him a strong tackler. Even when a runner makes a quick move to get past him, he can recover well because his wingspan is unreal.
- Huge upside. Again, mostly due to his physical attributes, he has a ridiculously high ceiling. The substantial uptick in his numbers from 2014 to 2015 reinforce as much.
- As is often the case with physical freaks such as Buckner, he is still quite raw.
- Buckner often seems to guess wrong, for example taking the outside route around a blocker only to get caught on a draw play up the middle.
- He needs to improve his path to the quarterback. He wastes too many steps, and therefore time, in his pass rushing, and that will hurt his sack totals. NFL quarterbacks get the ball out much more efficiently than college quarterbacks do.
- For somebody as big and lean as he is, he doesn't really blow you away on tape. He makes the occasional "oh my god" play, but he goes long stretches of looking very ordinary. It's somewhat concerning how he would fare against better blocking.
How He Would Fit on the Redskins
There are two major upsides to not having an early pick in the first round: First, it means your season went pretty well (unless, of course, you traded away your first-round pick); second, if you totally whiff on a player, the burn is tempered by the value of the pick. Buckner has major upside and certainly has the potential to be one of the top five or six defensive linemen in the NFL. But he also has just as much bust potential, and that's a terrifying prospect for a team that expects to carry a fair share of momentum into the 2016 season.
If I had to guess, I'd say Buckner ends up being a fine defensive tackle in a 4-3 front. But I'm not especially confident in that prediction, and I'm very skeptical of his huge production leap — to me, it reeks of a fluke, even though the additional snaps he received in 2015 seem a fair explanation. If he slips to No. 21, the Redskins would probably be wise to take him, and nobody would blame them. Hell, any team would love a shot at the guy. However, if I was a GM with a top 10 pick, he's a player I would be awfully hesitant to draft. There's a definite possibility he would make me look foolish down the road for passing him up, but that's a risk I'd take (I say comfortably at my keyboard).
Michigan State OT Jack Conklin buries Oregon's DeForest Buckner on this play. Good strength on Conklin pic.twitter.com/99oppqv3wo— Joe Buscaglia (@JoeBuscaglia) January 26, 2016
Elite athleticism here from Oregon DL DeForest Buckner. Not many guys his size can do that. https://t.co/CYhHguAfBu— Draft Scout 24/7 (@DraftScout247) January 25, 2016
Connor Cook, Ryan Kelly, DeForest Buckner the only players to straight up decline invitation. Did so respectfully.— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) January 26, 2016