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High Praise for Colt's DeForest Buckner.


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High Praise for Colts' DeForest Buckner

Not just another Top-5 list, Indianapolis Colts defensive lineman DeForest Buckner makes arguably the most important one.

 

Indianapolis Colts defensive lineman DeForest Buckner is on another top-whatever list during the offseason, but this one carries more weight than most.

ESPN compiled votes from league executives, coaches, players, and scouts to create lists of the top players at each position. On Wednesday they rolled out the Top-10 list of defensive linemen as voted by their peers and NFL personnel.

Buckner checked in at No. 4 on the list. His highest vote was No. 2 while his lowest was eight. Getting a second-place vote is no small task considering Aaron Donald of the LA Rams was a unanimous No. 1.

Only Donald, Jeffery Simmons (Titans), and Chris Jones (Chiefs) finished ahead of Buckner, while Cameron Heyward (Steelers) rounded out the top five.

Buckner might be the most complete player on this list, save Donald. In each of the past four seasons, Buckner has produced at least seven sacks, 58 tackles and nine tackles for loss. 

One of Colts GM Chris Ballard's savviest moves was acquiring Buckner via a trade with the 49ers two years ago. Since then, the Colts have had a perennial top-five player at the position with 16.5 sacks since 2020.

"Tough, instinctive, needs to be accounted for in both phases," an AFC scout said. "Routinely beats single blocks and is racking up the sack numbers since the trade with San Francisco." - ESPN's Top Defensive Linemen

 

Heading into his seventh year in the NFL, Buckner is coming off back to back Pro Bowl nods and has made three of the last four. 

He turned 28 in March and is still in the prime of his career. He had 68 tackles and seven sacks in 2021, down slightly from his first year with the Colts when he had 58 tackles and 9.5 sacks in 2020.

Buckner was originally drafted by the San Francisco 49ers (7th overall) out of Oregon in the 2016 NFL Draft. The Colts acquired Buckner prior to the 2020 NFL Draft when they sent their No. 1 pick (13th overall) to the 49ers.

The 49ers sent that pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who selected offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs. The 49ers moved down a spot and selected Buckner's replacement in defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw.

Wirfs was All-Pro last season for the Buccaneers, While Kinlaw played in just four games for the 49ers in 2021.

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