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Colts’ Matt Eberflus Describing his Input on Acquiring All-Pro DT DeForest Buckner: ‘Yes. Go Get this Guy.’

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NFL: OCT 08 49ers at Colts Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

According to defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, the Indianapolis Colts’ evaluation process of potentially acquiring defensive tackle DeForest Buckner from the San Francisco 49ers didn’t require extended input from him—as he said ‘Yes. Go Get this guy’ after a limited review of the All-Pro’s game film (via Colts.com’s Andrew Walker):

“When Chris (Ballard) and Frank (Reich) came to me first about DeForest, and they said, ‘Hey, we have a chance to get this young man here,’ I went back and looked at a few games, in terms of the playoff games and all that, and my initial reaction was exactly what I thought when I watched him in some crossover games, is, ‘This guy is an impact player, and he plays at a high level, and he certainly affects the football in positive ways up front,’” Eberflus said.

“My answer was, ‘Yes. Go get this guy.’”

“The question was posed to me, ‘Hey, if we get X player at 13, or this player at 13, or we could acquire DeForest…’ we did some thinking on that, and the thought process was, ‘Hey, we got a known player here that we’ve seen play in the NFL that’s young, that’s played a lot of snaps, has done a great job in terms of impacting football games. If we can get him, let’s go get him.’ … As soon as we signed him, a couple of my buddies in the league got a hold of me and said, ‘You’re gonna love him on game day, but during practice you’re gonna love him even more.’ The way he practices raises everybody’s level, and his leadership is just that; people lead by example and lead by doing, and he certainly does that in practice. I’m excited to get him on the practice field to watch him work, and to work with him.”

Of course, the Colts did ultimately acquire the former 49ers’ All-Pro defensive tackle for the 13th overall pick and then proceeded to lock him up to a new 4-year, $84 million extension.

That acquisition should be music to Eberflus’ ears, as Buckner is one of the best defensive tackles in all of football and should be a natural fit as his defense’s new starting three-technique—where he can ‘dominate the B-Gap’, penetrate the pocket, and consistently command double teams.

At 6’7”, 295 pounds—with 34 3/8” arms, Buckner is an interior pass rushing force with his athleticism, quickness, and yes, those freakishly long arms which can wreak havoc:

He’s also incredibly durable—having played 952 defensive line snaps in 2019 and has only missed 1 start during his prior 4-year career.

Buckner had 62 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 2 passes defensed, 2 forced fumbles, and 4 fumbles recoveries (one for a touchdown return) in all 16 starts during 2019—and had 19.5 sacks combined over the past two seasons for the 49ers’ vaunted defense.

Per Pro Football Focus (subscription), Buckner was their 11th best graded defensive tackle this past season with a +81.4 grade overall.

Along with the likes of All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard and proven veteran pass rusher Justin Houston, Buckner instantly becomes one of the Colts’ top established defensive stars—and he’s just entering his prime for the Horseshoe.

While Eberflus did perform his due diligence in evaluating Buckner, the acquisition appears to be pretty much a no brainer from his coaching perspective for dramatically improving the Colts defense this upcoming season—and for many years to come.