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.