2016 NFL Draft: DeForest Buckner could be the X factor
The 2016 NFL Draft is only a month away and as teams continue to jostle for position to draft the best players available, one player is formidable enough to buck the traditional trends we’ve seen since January in mock drafts.
Laremy Tunsil, Jalen Ramsey, Joey Bosa, Myles Jack, and….who?
The top five of the 2016 NFL Draft is not perfectly settled. There is no guarantee who will go first overall and the other subsequent picks could all shift as well, with the Tennessee Titans, Cleveland Browns, San Diego Chargers, Dallas Cowboys, and Jacksonville Jaguars all featuring plenty of needs.
While the four players listed above are generally regarded as the best the 2016 class has to offer, one more player may buck the trend and force his way into consideration as one of the top talents in the 2016 NFL Draft.
DeForest Buckner, the defensive lineman from Oregon, is an absolute terror. He’s a supreme physical specimen who promises to wreak havoc on offensive lines when he gets to the NFL.
He’s so good, in fact, that Sam Monson at Pro Football Focus just named him the first overall pick to the Titans in his premiere 2016 NFL mock draft. Monson had this to say about Buckner:
"Buckner has been arguably the most disruptive defender in college football over the past season, and would slot straight in to a Titans defensive line and breathe a new lease of life into a guy like Jurrell Casey, who would no longer be the sole focus of attention. Buckner is a true every-down player, having been on the field for over 100 snaps in a single game twice last season, and has exceptional grades against both the run and pass."
PFF has been high on Buckner for a while (see, Why PFF is obsessed with DeForest Buckner) so it isn’t shocking to see them rather surprisingly declare him the top pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. He has impressive talent, but the top spot has so far tended to jostle between Tunsil, an offensive lineman, and Bosa, a defensive lineman who many consider the best player in the draft.
Not being tied to the PFF statistics as much as their analysts, I just don’t see Buckner becoming the first overall pick. While there isn’t a ton to nitpick, the relative value of other players makes his selection at first overall stand out as an oddity. There are many other directions the Titans could take that would be as good or arguably better than Buckner.
What I do think is that Buckner will find his way into the top six picks. He’ll make a team incredibly happy when he is selected and he’ll come to play on each and every down for that team. Even teams that aren’t 3-4 defenses, like the Jacksonville Jaguars, could benefit from the play Buckner will bring.
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If there is a shakeup in the top five or six picks, however, it may be Buckner who does it. If he does go first overall to the Titans, that will open up even more opportunities for the Jaguars. The Jaguars are well positioned to land any defensive player that “falls” to fifth overall and Buckner could open the door for someone like Ramsey, Bosa, or Jack in their position.
If Buckner is the x factor, the Jaguars can’t lose.