Indianapolis Colts All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard is beyond excited that another All-Pro has arrived to ‘bring the juice’ for the Horseshoe—calling it a ‘dream’—as new All-Pro defensive tackle DeForest Buckner should command serious attention along a much improved Indy defensive line—allowing Leonard to make even more plays, playing behind him:
“It’s amazing, especially for a linebacker,” Leonard’s said on Buckner’s addition (via ‘Good Morning Football’). “He’s up front, taking on two to three offensive linemen, and for a linebacker, that’s your dream. I really feel like our defensive line is stacked right now.”
“I think the defensive backs and linebackers definitely appreciate that, so I’m definitely looking forward to DeForest (Buckner) coming in and continuing to put on tape what he has put on tape for the past couple of years—and he’s got that mentality that he can’t be stopped,” continued Leonard. “Hopefully, he won’t be stopped, so we can actually have a great defense... and have a great season.”
Specifically, Buckner, as a natural three-technique in the Colts defense, will significantly impact Leonard—as the linebacking unit’s ‘Will’ linebacker:
“Having a dominant three-tech as a WILL, and that can take up two to three blockers, the pullers can’t go up on you, or they can’t double and then come up on the linebackers as quick as they want to,” Leonard said regarding playing the Will behind Buckner. “That gives the linebackers enough time to actually run around and make plays.”
However, Buckner’s big offseason addition isn’t limited to solely impacting Leonard, as it should make the entire Colts defense better by default:
“Then if you think about it, it’s no secret, everybody knows that we are going to play Cover 2,” Leonard noted (via Colts.com). “It’s a ‘bend but don’t-break’ defense. If the guys are shutting everything down in the backend, and quarterbacks throw the checkdown because that’s their last resort, by the time they even get to that checkdown read and having our defensive line, I feel like our defensive line is going to be so dominant that quarterbacks will not have enough time to actually get to that checkdown. Having him, Denico Autry, J-Houston, I just feel like we’re going to dominate hopefully.”
The former 7th overall pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, Buckner, has become one of the best defensive tackles in football—as a 2019 2nd-Team NFL All-Pro and 2018 Pro Bowler—for the reigning NFC Champions’ notoriously stingy front seven.
At a listed 6’7”, 295 pounds—with freakishly long arms (34 3’8”), Buckner is an exceptional athlete with size, speed, strength, and quickness—who’s well-rounded against both the run and pass—although pass rushing is his primary calling card (with 19.5 combined sacks over the past two seasons for the San Francisco 49ers).
Still only 26 years old, he figures to anchor the Colts defensive line for many years to come and provide a much needed interior pass rush—while consistently commanding double teams, drawing attention, and applying pressure/penetration.
Along with Leonard, Buckner gives the Colts’ defense two bonafide NFL All-Pros—and the big man’s arrival should enable ‘The Maniac’ to make even more plays—if possible—which is a scary thought for opposing offenses in both 2020 and beyond.