According to Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard, acquired All-Pro defensive tackle DeForest Buckner helped improve the overall leadership and worth ethic of the franchise’s locker room this past season.
When asked on 107.5 The Fan’s ‘The Dan Dakich Show’, whether he felt comfortable adding any player to the Colts locker room right now, Ballard responded on Friday afternoon:
“Yeah. Yeah. It’s good. It’s freaking good, man.”
In particular, Ballard credited the arrival of NFL First-Team All-Pro DeForest Buckner as the biggest difference-maker—as the new catalyst in locker room culture, firmly solidifying it:
“The addition of (DeForest) Buckner really almost (solidified it), I mean because he’s a real pro now,” as Ballard praised Buckner’s leadership and work ethic. “Like the way he works. The way he shows up.”
“Every day at 6:15 a.m. in the morning, Buckner’s in the building with his routine, and all of the sudden you’d look up, and there’d be another player. And another player. And these are young (guys). I mean we forget, like Darius Leonard is a young player—even though this is just his third year. He’s still a young player in the league, and it was great for them to see a vet come in, and I mean Buckner’s only 26 (years old), who had been through it, had a great routine, and I mean these guys already worked, but it’s been fun to watch.”
Having surrendered their 2020 first round pick to acquire him (and awarding him with a lucrative multi-year extension), Buckner was as great as advertised for the Colts—finishing with 58 tackles (37 solo), 10 tackles for loss, a team-high 9.5 sacks, 53 total QB pressures, 3 passes defensed, 2 forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, and a safety during 15 games (14 starts) in 2020.
Buckner was consistently the Colts defense’s best and most valuable player all season—and beyond his obvious freakish athletic gifts, a lot of that is a testament to his incredible drive and work ethic behind the scenes—helping to lead and positively influence the Colts locker room by example.
What an addition for Indianapolis that Buckner’s been, as both the player and the person.