Where does DeForest Buckner rank among NFL interior defensive linemen?

The Indianapolis Colts have a star in DeForest Buckner defensive linemen, but how good is he compared to other inside defensive linemen?

In 2020, the Indianapolis Colts traded a first-round pick for DeForest Buckner then extended it to a four-year deal worth $84 million. Two seasons later, it’s safe to say that Indy is happy to have made the move, as Buckner has been an elite player for the Colts.

In his first season at Indianapolis, Buckner played in 15 games and had 9.5 sacks, 58 tackles, 10 for a loss and 26 quarterback hits. Those numbers earned him the first first-team All-Pro selection of his career.

A season later, Buckner was selected to his second Pro Bowl after appearing in 17 games and recording seven sacks, 68 tackles, 10 for a loss and 18 quarterback hits. He has really established himself as a force in the middle of the Indy defensive line.

With his performance earning him league-wide recognition, where does he rank among the top interior defensive linemen in the league? PFF’s Ben Linsey was responsible for placing the NFL Interior Defensemen by Levels and Their Ranking.

Clearly, Linsey ranked Aaron Donald in a tier of his own as the best interior defensive lineman. No one is going to debate it. Buckner came in 4th on the elite level list.

PFF ranks DeForest Buckner fourth among best defensive tackles

After Donald, only Cameron Heyward and Chris Jones are ahead of Buckner. It speaks to the kind of talent he has and the level of dominance he plays with.

Still just 28 years old, Buckner will no doubt become even more dangerous with the Colts. In addition to his natural evolution, Indy surrounds himself with other quality linemen.

The Colts traded for Yannick Ngakoue and have several young players like Kwity Paye playing. With more talent on the defensive line, it will be difficult for opposing offensive lines to block Buckner.

Going forward, Buckner and the Colts should have a more effective passing rush and overall dominant defensive line.

Betty K. Park