Not every Oregon prospect manages to live up to the expectations, but it’s hard to imagine DeForest Buckner failing in the NFL, getting plenty of attention from the Dallas Cowboys, Baltimore Ravens, San Diego Chargers and Jacksonville Jaguars.
Yes, if you remember your 2016 NFL draft order right, this probably means Buckner is going very early in the draft. The 6’7, 291 lbs defensive end won the Pac-12 defensive player MVP last season, while making a number of All-American teams. Playing four seasons in Eugene for the Ducks, he had a brilliant Senior year, finishing with 10.5 sacks, 17 tackles for a loss and 83 tackles overall in a weird season for the Ducks that are used to much more than being so far off winning or challenging for the conference title.
Buckner has visited with all these teams, working out for some. There has been talk about teams being wary of Oregon pass rushers because of their bad experience considering Dion Jordan. But besides the jersey each of them wore during their college years, they don’t have much in common. Buckner is much bigger and thicker, and portending an NFL career with his hand on the ground, rather than a stand-up pass rusher like Jordan.
Buckner seems to have the perfect combination of height, length, athleticism and quickness, and many think he’d be an ideal 3-4 defensive end, but he can probably play in other positions which have more to do with directly rushing the passer. Regardless of his best fit, right now he seems like a very early pick in the first round, hence all the top 10 selectors going after him, unless the team has quarterback problems that can’t be left unsolved this offseason.
Bucker isn’t perfect: He plays a bit too tall in the eyes of some scouts, and in general, has some flaws in his defensive and pass rushing technique. But in a draft filled with good defensive linemen, it feels like Buckner is one of those can’t miss prospects who’ll fit in anywhere in terms of football position. He’ll probably be putting all the comparisons to inferior players behind him once the good games come coming in.