According to PFF, Indianapolis Colts star defensive tackle DeForest Buckner was listed as one of thirteen NFL players, who ‘just missed the cut’ of their Top 50 players entering the 2021 campaign:
DI DEFOREST BUCKNER, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
The interior of the defensive line is another position group absolutely loaded with talented players across the NFL. Even setting Aaron Donald aside for the moment as an alien, the likes of which the PFF grading system has never seen before, there are a lot of impactful interior linemen wreaking havoc on offenses. DeForest Buckner was good enough in San Francisco for the Colts to trade the No. 13 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft to acquire him and hand him a monster contract extension, and he has been better in Indianapolis than he ever was as a 49er.
Buckner has 123 total pressures over the past two years as well as 71 defensive stops, and his overall PFF grade peaked this past year at 89.6. He also topped a 90.0 mark as a pass rusher for the first time in his career. If Buckner can continue that level of play next year and beyond, he will certainly find himself on the PFF50 in 12 months’ time, but the lack of guarantees is what causes him to miss out in favor of players who have established their dominance over more than one year.
Buckner, who was named a 2020 NFL First-Team All-Pro, was shockingly omitted from PFF’s Top 50 players which was fully unveiled last week.
Rather, another Colts’ All-Pro, offensive guard Quenton Nelson, was the only Colts player to make PFF’s list at #4 overall.
Regarding Buckner, the 27 year old superstar defensive tackle shined in his debut season with the Colts, recording 58 tackles (37 solo), 10 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks (a team-high), 57 total QB pressures (a team-high), 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, a safety, and 3 passes defensed during 15 games (14 starts) in 2020.
The Colts’ ascending and much improved defense was drastically worse without him in the lineup, as he was unquestionably Indianapolis’ best and most valuable player overall this past season—instantly becoming a dominant interior force.
How he didn’t make the PFF top 50 players is pretty inexcusable.
PFF does a lot of great work, but they were clearly mistaken here.
If Buckner was good enough to become a 2020 NFL First-Team All-Pro, alongside reigning NFL DPOY Aaron Donald at defensive tackle, he was plenty good enough to make any serious ‘Top 50’ league players list.
You can assign him whatever advanced overall grade you want to, but in this instance, it’s wrong.
While PFF acknowledges he ‘just missed’ here, that’s not enough, and we can chalk this up to pair alongside Buckner’s 2020 Pro Bowl snub as well—as in, it doesn’t make any sense.
Point blank, he belonged on the actual Top 50 list.
Saying anything otherwise is silly.