Former Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner is visiting with the Chargers on Wednesday, according to Michael Gehlken of The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Ex-Oregon DE DeForest Buckner is visiting Chargers now. Means two things: he’s on draft board; still i’s to dot, t’s to cross in evaluation.
— Michael Gehlken (@sdutGehlken) March 30, 2016
At 6-foot-7, 290 pounds, Buckner would provide a monstrous presence opposite of Chargers’ defensive end Corey Liuget, one that the team has not had since No. 94 was drafted by the Bolts.
Now that the organization has added veteran nose tackle Brandon Mebane, a defensive line consisting of Liuget, Buckner and Mebane is, by far, the most talent the team has had on the D-line in about a decade.
Here is what some of the media pundits around the NFL have to say about Buckner:
Dane Brugler of CBSSports.com –
STRENGTHS: Looks the part with a tall, long frame and growth potential to add bulk. Massive wingspan and uses his length to unglue himself from blocks or create spacing at the point of attack, locking out, setting the edge and preventing angle blocks.
Quickly stacks and sheds, using pop in his hands to work off contact. Fluid lower body and athletic footwork to move laterally and break down in tight spaces. Plays low for a man his size with good bend, making it tough for blockers to attack his chest.
Good chase skills and hustle to catch ballcarriers in pursuit. Uses his upper body and initial momentum to generate push off the snap. Rarely met by single blocks, attracting double-teams or chips. Uses his length to swallow ballcarriers as a tackler and drive them backwards.
Long-limbed to obstruct passing lanes (10 career passes defended). Quiet, reserved personality off the field, but warrior mentality on the field, giving full-go whenever he steps on the field. Versatile experience, lining up inside and outside in Oregon’s multiple fronts.
WEAKNESSES: Leverage can be an issue at times due to his height. Struggles to recoil and reset himself after his initial move stalls. Still learning how to set up his pass rush sequence and counter moves. Only average snap anticipation.
Needs to know his limitations as a pass rusher and not sacrifice the edge. Still learning how to use his hands and consistently convert speed to power – more of a reactor as a pass rusher. Inconsistent tackler on the move, losing balance in space and not timing his hits. Want to see more of a killer instinct on each snap.
COMPARES TO: Calais Campbell, Arizona Cardinals – With monstrous body types and vines for arms, Buckner is built very similar to Campbell and he has the upside to develop into a similar player.
IN OUR VIEW: Buckner played primarily as a defensive end in Oregon’s 3-4 base, lining up as the four-, five- or six-technique, but also saw snaps inside in the A-gap or at nose tackle. He plays with explosive movements and terrific body control for his size, flashing heavy hands and initial power to be a disruptive force, although he’s still learning how to use his hands and string together rush moves.
Buckner showed steady improvement at Oregon and became more of a consistent playmaker as a senior – perhaps Stanford head coach David Shaw described Buckner best when he said: “If you’re building a defensive lineman, that’s what you build.”
He should get even better with NFL coaching and has potential to be a long-term pro starter, projecting better than his former teammate Arik Armstead (17th overall pick to the 49ers in the 2015 NFL Draft).
Lance Zierlein of NFL.com –
It would be foolish for team to be wary of selecting Buckner because of the lack of success of former Ducks defender and number three overall pick Dion Jordan, as he’s a completely different type of player. The 2015 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Ted Hendricks Award finalist and member of multiple All-American squads (first team USA Today, second team AP, etc.) presents a thicker frame, portending an NFL career with his hand on the ground, rather than a stand-up pass rusher like Jordan. Buckner had become a name to note as a 2014 second-team All-Pac-12 pick (led team with 13 tackles for loss) after two seasons as a partial-year starter; he had 29 tackles and two starts, playing in every game as a true freshman in 2013, followed by a eight-start sophomore season (3.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks). He finished off his career in style (83 tackles, 17 for loss, Pac-12 leading 10.5 sacks), putting himself among the top prospects in the senior class.
PRO DAY RESULTS
Bench: 21 reps of 225 pounds
Impressive NFL-ready physique. Has natural strength and power in his hands and improved their effectiveness this year. Not a content player, Buckner plays with effort and will continue working hands and feet to improve his positioning. Light went on as pass rusher in 2015. Generated top-end production by combining his power and dynamic athletic traits. Improved his pad level as rusher creating dominating pocket push that he was able to convert into sacks and knockdowns. Rare tackle production for defensive lineman with 163 over last two seasons. Long arms and good play speed allow him maximum field coverage to tackle. Flexible upper body. Can flip shoulders, then hips around the edge of blockers allowing him to play on the other side of the line. Has size and athleticism for scheme versatility. Quick off the snap and difficult to cut off in run game.
Plays too tall after the snap. Pad level so high that it impacts ability to stop and change direction with necessary body control. Needs to bend more when penetrating in order to avoid redirect blocks. Will need to play with wider base to take on blockers on next level. Has habit of turning shoulders and getting knocked out of position rather than taking on blocks with squared up pads.
SOURCES TELL US
“His comp is going to be Calais Campbell or Arik Armstead but I think he’s more talented coming out than either one of those guys. He’s twice the player Armstead was coming out.” - NFC Regional Scout
Headed into this season, Buckner was a traits prospect who flashed with quickness, strength and overall athleticism, but he put those traits together in 2015. Buckner has the body type of a classic 3-4 defensive end who can control the point of attack with length and power, but he has above average pass rush potential for that position which figures to push him into the early stages of round one. Buckner has similar power to former teammate Arik Armstead, but is a much better pass rusher and has a chance to become a dominant force in the NFL.
The bottom line on Buckner
Buckner is the classic example of play-by-play production trumping highlights. There has been no more productive football player in the nation over the last season or two than Buckner. He was a dramatically better player than Arik Armstead on the same defensive line a year ago, and has only improved since. Armstead went 15th overall in the first round last year, perhaps more for his potential than his productivity.
Some are going to focus too heavily on what Buckner can’t do. He won’t run down athletic quarterbacks, he will get blown off the ball at times, and he will leave some plays on the field. But if you instead look at the sheer volume of plays he is disrupting and instead focus on what he can do, then you see a player that deserves to be in the conversation when the Titans are discussing the No. 1 overall pick.
Buckner is a player that can fit in any defensive front and make a huge impact inside, and brings with him the versatility to move around and cause problems. He has consistently proven to be more disruptive than people expect him to be when you tally up all of the plays he makes, and he is one of the very best players in this draft.
Buckner would be a solid selection for the Chargers with the third pick in the year’s draft — it appears he will be available if the team wants to pull the trigger on the former Duck.
For me, it boils down to this cluster of players for the third selection: DB Jalen Ramsey, OT Laremy Tunsil, DL Joey Bosa and the aforementioned Buckner. That is, of course, only if the team stays at No. 3, as opposed to trading down in an effort to acquire more picks.