DeForest Buckner Scouting Report By Charlie Campbell
Powerful bull rush
Can use his hands and feet at the same time
Versatile; able to line up in a variety of places
Can shed blocks
Quality run defender
Skilled at batting passes
Flashes a quick first-step
Reliable to control his gap
Uses leverage well
Gives good effort
Developed more pass-rushing moves
Fits a 4-3 or 3-4 defense
Gets in trouble when he stands up too high
Lacks elite speed around the corner
Needs to continue to refine and develop pass-rushing moves
Summary: In recent years, Oregon has been known for its point-machine offense, but for the NFL Draft, the program has been producing more highly rated prospects for the defensive side of the ball. The Ducks' defense yielded top-20 picks in Dion Jordan and Arik Armstead, while other talented prospects like Kiko Alonso and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu fell because of off-the-field and injury issues, respectively. This year, Buckner is Oregon's top prospect, and he could easily end up being a top-10 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
In 2014, Buckner recorded 81 tackles with 13 tackles for a loss, four sacks and four passes broken up. He formed a nice defensive end tandem with Armstead. To close out that season, Buckner didn't have a good game in the National Championship versus Ohio State (see below). Perhaps that played a role in his decision to return to Oregon, but it paid off as he improved a lot as a junior.
For his final season, Buckner really improved and took his game to another level. He totaled 83 tackles with 17 for a loss, 10.5 sacks and five passes batted. The sack total was especially impressive as Buckner managed to have more pass-rushing production than Armstead (2.5 sacks) or Jordan (five sacks) in their respectice final seasons. Oregon's defensive scheme doesn't yield itself to defensive linemen putting up big stat lines, so what Buckner did was exceptional.
The junior is a well-balanced defender. He is a strong at the point of attack and generally does a nice job of controlling his gap. He makes tackles that come at him and is able to shed his block to chase down backs outside of his gap. With his strength and speed, Buckner can also knife into the backfield to create disruption. The biggest problem that he has is standing up too high. That lets blockers get underneath his pads and move him around in the ground game or pass rush. Keeping his pads low is his biggest point of improvement for the next level.
As a pass-rusher, Buckner showed serious improvement over 2014. He has quickness to close on the quarterback, but isn't a pure speed rusher off the edge. When Buckner stays low, he shows a nice ability to bull rush into the pocket. Buckner has active hands and is able to use his strength to gain leverage on blockers. To get the better of NFL offensive lineman, Buckner should continue to develop a repertoire of moves. With his skill set, mastering a rip and club move would make the most sense.
Buckner doesn't have the speed to beat NFL left tackles, but when he's going against a left tackle who lacks strength, Buckner should be effective. He's more dangerous for taking on right tackles and guards. They can struggle with his combination of quickness and strength.
The versatile Buckner is a good fit for any NFL defensive scheme. He is effective at lining up at a variety of places. In a 4-3 defense, Buckner could play end on running downs and move inside in passing situations. In a 3-4 scheme, he would be a great fit as a five-technique. Buckner looks ready to play quickly in the NFL. If Buckner goes to some good coaching, he has the upside to be a difference-maker at the point of attack.
Player Comparison: Calais Campbell. In terms of skill set, Buckner is very similar to Campbell. They are nearly identical size - Campbell is (6-8, 310) - with a rare combination of size, strength and speed. Campbell has turned into an excellent player for Arizona, and Buckner's 2015 play at Oregon reminded me of Campbell at times.
NFL Matches: San Diego, Dallas, Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Detroit, Chicago, Miami, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Oakland and Indianapolis
There are a plethora of teams that could consider a defensive line talent like Buckner early in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. San Diego could use a defensive line difference-maker to go with Corey Liuget. Dallas could take Buckner and play him on the inside. He also could be a replacement for Greg Hardy. Buckner isn't the off-the-field disaster that Hardy is, and Buckner would be a lot cheaper on his 5-year rookie contract.
With the sixth pick, Buckner could be in play for Baltimore. The Ravens released veteran Chris Canty, and Buckner could give them an impact five-technique. He might turn into a true replacement for Haloti Ngata.
Tampa Bay could use more talent on its defensive line to go with Gerald McCoy. Buckner could play end on run downs and move inside to rush next to McCoy in passing situations.
Detroit could both use interior defensive line help and an end to pair with Ziggy Ansah. Buckner would be a nice fit to play end on running downs and move inside during passing situations.
The Bears could use a difference-maker at the point of attack. Buckner would be a good fit for John Fox, and they need to get some five-techniques for their change to the 3-4. New Orleans has to upgrade its defense, and Buckner could make a quick impact for the Saints.
Miami lost Olivier Vernon and signed Mario Williams. Even though Williams was signed, he and Cameron Wake are on the wrong side of 30 and aren't long-term solutions. The Dolphins could use a third end to pair with those veterans and Buckner would eventually be a replacement.
Oakland and Indianapolis need a disruptive defender at the point of attack, but either team would have to trade up for Buckner.