INDIANAPOLIS – DeForest Buckner views himself as overlooked, which could be viewed as surprising considering he was a top-10 pick, has played in a Super Bowl and was just traded for a top-15 pick.
But when you look at Buckner’s resume four years into his NFL career, you can see why he’s knocking on the door of the elite defensive tackles in the league.
“I do believe I’m slept on,” the new Colts defensive tackle says.
After Buckner was on the verge of winning a Super Bowl last year with the 49ers, that is obviously the goal for him this coming season.
Individually, Buckner wants to decorate his resume a bit more.
He highlights 3 goals for him this season:
-NFL sack record of 22.5 sacks: “As a d-lineman, you’re always striving for the sack record. If you play d-line and that’s not your goal, I don’t know why you play d-line.”
-1st Team All-Pro: “I got second team last year. I want to make First Team All-Pro.
-Voted into Pro Bowl: “I made it in 2018, but I made it as an alternate. I want to be selected.”
Those potential accolades will be the result of how impactful Buckner can be over the course of a 16-game season, and it’s key for the Colts to feel the return from their prized offseason addition on defense.
Week-to-week, the Colts will ask for Buckner to spearhead their defensive line efforts.
How does Buckner view his role in stopping the run?
“In the run game, you want a 3-technique that can attack and get penetration up front,” the 6-7, 300-pound defensive tackles says. “Kind of set the edge from a 3-technique, kind of force the running back to stop his feet and also taking on those double teams.”
And in the pass game?
“Interior pressure on a quarterback, especially nowadays is everything,” Buckner says. “It’s obviously a passing league, and having that constant pressure coming up the middle, especially with bigger, taller guys I guess, it shows that presence up front. It forces quarterbacks, even if the guys aren’t getting there, to put a little air under their ball a little bit more. They can’t really see through the middle in the throwing lanes and things like that. Also, it forces the quarterback to step back, which helps out your edge rushers coming around the corner.”
If Buckner sounds like a publicist for his own position, he’s got many important supporters stressing the value of his role in this defense.
Changing from one team to another can involve some differences in what you are asked to do.
The Colts believe Buckner is special, so him just being him will be enough.
“To what you require in a 3-technique, I feel like I bring it to this defense,” Buckner says. “That’s what I’ve done the past couple of years with the 49ers and I feel like I’m stepping into the same role. That’s what made this trade so easy for me.
“I’m just excited to be able to be a part of it and I’m just glad it was perfect timing to where the team was looking for a guy that stressed those needs from last year. Just being able to have the opportunity to be a part of this team and this young defense, I’m excited. It’s crazy how much talent we have on defense, but also in our defensive line room. Being able to work with those guys is going to be very exciting this year.”