Why DeForest Buckner should be drafted in the top 5 picks

Steve Palazzolo explains why Oregon's defensive end should be considered a top pick in the 2016 NFL draft.

| 12 months ago
(AP Photo/Ryan Kang)

(AP Photo/Ryan Kang)

Why DeForest Buckner should be drafted in the top 5 picks


Mock draft season has begun, starting the always-interesting process of evaluating perceived player value. One player that stood out from Todd McShay’s recent mock is Oregon defensive lineman DeForest Buckner. Buckner went at No. 12 to the Chicago Bears in McShay’s mock, and that’s common territory for the Oregon defensive end in other mocks as well.

My recent mock draft had Buckner going third to the San Diego Chargers, and given his down-to-down production this past season, it’s hard to see him falling out of the top five. We even considered Buckner as an option at the No. 1 pick, ousting Ohio State’s DE Joey Bosa.

While we still believe Bosa to be the top player in the draft, Buckner’s length and overall size (6-foot-7, 290 pounds) are a perfect fit for a 3-4, and there are likely teams that will have him higher on their board than Bosa. Buckner’s not limited to one position, however, as he did play inside at Oregon, but he has the unique length to challenge offensive tackles on the edge as well.

Just as Bosa was the far and away top edge defender in college football this season, Buckner dominated our interior defensive line rankings, leading the way with a +38.1 pass rush grade to go with a +27.2 grade against the run that ranked eighth. Even at 6-foot-7, he’s able to get low and move blockers to alter the path of the running back and he’s adept at shedding and making plays as his run stop percentage of 9.8 percent ranks fifth among 3-4 defensive ends.

This season was no anomaly for Buckner as even in 2014, while teammate Arik Armstead was garnering first round hype, Buckner was outplaying him (+44.2 to +20.3). Armstead landed in the middle of the first round to the 49ers, and he’s off to a nice start, but Buckner has potential to be even better. Given his ability to affect the game as both a pass rusher and against the run, while showing the scheme versatility to move around the defensive line, Buckner is a top five pick in this draft.

| Senior Analyst

Steve is a senior analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has been featured on ESPN Insider, NBC Sports, and 120 Sports.

  • Mike Riley

    Would love a hybrid front of Edwards Jr., Dan Williams at NT, Buckner at 5-tech & Mack rushing over right tackle. Once Aldon Smith is back, look out.

    • kuk

      That would be devastating!!!

    • https://twitter.com/MALACHiOFCOURSE Malachi

      as a broncos fan, i pray this doesn’t happen, lol. kinda glad (kindaaa) that y’all won’t be drafting top 5 on the regs now

  • crosseyedlemon

    Buckner is the kind of healing medicine that DeForest Kelley would prescribe. Any team that drafts him will benefit.

  • shaunhan murray

    I worry about his ability to rush the passer…I can only think of 1 great pass rusher who is 6 foot 6+ and plays from the interior and thats Calais Cambell

    • crosseyedlemon

      Even though he played interior in college it seems likely that his potential as an edge guy will be explored once he reaches the NFL to see if that could work. If he can make the adjustment he could develop into another Too Tall Jones and that wouldn’t be bad at all.

      • shaunhan murray

        I just think that the newish idea that if u take a dline man in the top 10 he has to be a pass rusher is becoming more and more prevalent.Ifnhe becomes Tyson Jackson the team will be left unhappy

        • crosseyedlemon

          Your right. The passing game has become so critical in this era that you absolutely have to find D-linemen that can bring heat on opposing QBs.

          • shaunhan murray

            Maybe he can be a Big Mo type…he doesn’t strike me as that similar but heh who knows.

    • https://twitter.com/MALACHiOFCOURSE Malachi

      it’s not like 6’5′ guys are short, and many are dominant, i.e. JJ

      • shaunhan murray

        There is a big difference between between JJ and Cambell.As 6 foot 8 Calais has to work incredibly hard to be the low man . especially on super dense guards

        • https://twitter.com/MALACHiOFCOURSE Malachi

          for sure, but it’s not like they are both geno atkins or aaron donald either. cambell a freak, his pick of peyton manning last year was as aware as it gets

          • shaunhan murray

            fair enough.With a further look it into it ya’ll have changed my mind a little.

  • Jordan

    The bears offseason:
    Draft buckner, sign muhammed wilkerson and von miller.

    ah shit nevermind that was in my dream last night