Various NFL journalists and analysts have been releasing their Top 100 players list for 2021 over the last few weeks. Dalton Miller, a Lead NFL Analyst for Pro Football Network, is the latest to release his rankings, which can be found here.
Colts’ defensive tackle DeForest Buckner comes in at No. 19. Buckner, whom Indianapolis traded the 13th overall selection in the 2020 draft to acquire, was as advertised for the team last season.
The first-team All-Pro selectee was second to only Rams’ defensive tackle Aaron Donald in sacks with 9.5. Additionally, Buckner is ranked as the second-highest defensive tackle on Miller’s list, which many would say is exactly where he belongs.
Buckner made a living last season terrorizing opposing quarterbacks, as he accumulated a total of 2 forced fumbles, 58 combined tackles (37 solo), 10 tackles for loss, 26 quarterback hits and a safety.
Miller further highlights Buckner’s dominance writing, in part, “Buckner is everything I look for in a gap-penetrating 3-technique. He’s explosive enough to threaten the shoulder of interior blockers. His levers allow him to control a blocker’s breastplates as they flail to regain control. And, despite his 6-foot-7 frame, he plays with excellent leverage.”
It was said when the Colts first made the trade to acquire the superstar, but the team hasn’t had an elite presence at the 3-tech spot in what feels like forever. Buckner’s immediate impact not only helped Indy’s defensive line perform better, but their entire defense made major strides towards being considered a top-tier unit, too.
The 27-year-old will certainly be looking to build off of last season’s success in 2021. With the notable moves the Colts made along the defensive line this offseason — which include using their first-round pick on Kwity Paye and second-round pick on Dayo Odeyingbo, combined with some familiar faces whom the team has high hopes for in Tyquan Lewis and Kemoko Turay, Buckner may very well be even more dominant for Indy this upcoming season.