Does Deforest Buckner make the Indianapolis Colts defense a top 10 unit?

  • Chris Ballard
  • Darius Leonard
  • DeForest Buckner
  • Indianapolis Colts
  • Justin Houston
  • Malik Hooker
  • Matt Eberflus
  • Xavier Rhodes
By PJ Pax June 27, 2020 0 Comment

Will the addition of Deforest Buckner make the Indianapolis Colts a top 10 defense in 2020? How does he add to the pieces already in place?

Deforest Buckner was traded to the Indianapolis Colts on March 16th for the 13th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Their general manager Chris Ballard at his end of season press conference felt it was one of their most significant needs heading into the season. “The 3-technique drives this thing. It does. Every time I’ve been a part of this (defense), the 3-technique drives this.”

Deforest Buckner last season

Buckner had 7.5 Sacks, two Forced Fumbles, four Fumble Recoveries, and 62 tackles in 2019 while being named second-team all-pro in 2019. He helped the San Francisco 49ers finish the season 13-3 and make a run all the way to Super Bowl 54.

Colts Defense last season

In 2019 the Colts finished 18th in defensive ranking. The poor finish is due to injuries and a lack of consistent pass rush. The Colts are hoping that adding an all-pro 3-tech to the defense will help three levels. Defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus runs a zone heavy event front defense, which relies on consistent pressure on the quarterback. However, in 2019, the Colts failed to consistently pressure opposing quarterbacks.

State of the Defense in 2020

Their Defensive Line heading into 2020 will include Justin Houston, Buckner, Grover Stewart, Denico Autry and Kemoko Turay. Their key reserves include Al-Quadin Muhammad, Ben Banogu, Tyquan Lewis and Sheldon Day. It may not have many flashy names, but it is a solid unit with some depth.

The Colts have one of the best linebacking cores in the league, with the ‘Manic’ Darius Leonard, Anthony Walker and Bobby Okereke. Leonard is one of the best linebackers in the NFL. Walker has been good during his three-year career and Bobby Okereke has everything you need to be a great linebacker. Also, he finished as the highest-graded (PFF) rookie linebacker last year. With more snaps in 2020, Okereke should take a huge step forward.

The biggest weakness of this defense is the secondary. Rock Ya-Sin had a bumpy rookie year but finished the season great, and they hope he can develop even more going into his second year. Kenny Moore is one of, if not the best, slot corners in the league. He is an excellent open-field tackler and Blitzer. The most significant question mark for what can make this defense great is the play of Xavier Rhodes. Rhodes hasn’t been elite since 2017, but he’s reunited with his old Defensive backs’ coach from Minnesota. He also gets to play more Zone, which he looks more comfortable in. Malik Hooker hasn’t played up to his draft slot, but has flashed everything that made him a first-round selection. Khari Willis was a 4th round pick last year and played great. Hopefully, he can take another big step forward in 2020.

Can they be top 10?

Yes, they can be a top ten defense in 2020. It’s going to come down to how Rock Ya-Sin develops, if Xavier Rhodes can stop the freefall he’s been in and if the pass rush can be consistent with the addition of Buckner and Turay returning from Injury. If Buckner is that big puzzle piece that Indianapolis needed, watch out for the Colts in 2020.

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