INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle DeForest Buckner spoke with local reporters via video conference call on Wednesday. What did Buckner have to say about getting acclimated to the Colts' defensive system, what his three-tech role can provide and much more?
You can catch that entire session above, but here are some top takeaways:
» Though it's been all through virtual channels, Buckner likes what he's seen so far as he's gotten acclimated to the Colts' defensive system: Back in March the Colts sent their first-round (13th-overall) pick to the San Francisco 49ers to acquire Buckner, already at 26 years old considered one of the top defensive tackles in the NFL. About a month later, Buckner and the Colts kicked off their virtual offseason program, made necessary by the COVID-19 pandemic and various stay-at-home and social distancing measures put into place across the country.
Now about five weeks into that program, Buckner has had a solid opportunity to start the process of getting to know not only his new coaches and teammates, but the system in which he will be playing under defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus.
Buckner said the Colts' and 49ers' systems are very similar, with an emphasis to simply play as fast and as hard as he can each and every play.
"No, not at all," Buckner said when asked if he's been surprised by anything since starting virtual meetings with the Colts. "I know that they run a 4-3, they want to attack up front and everything is what I expected. Going through the meetings, we ran some similar plays in San Francisco. I'm just getting used to the terminology that they use throughout on the plays. (it's) everything that I expected so far."
While Buckner acknowledged the importance of actually getting onto the field and running through everything with his teammates as soon as possible, he's already developed a good feel for the guys who will be lining up around him.
"Just being in the meeting room and everything – virtually obviously – and hearing these guys talk and go through the defense and everything, we have a lot of smart guys on this team, a lot of young guys," Buckner said. "Watching some film, everybody is talented so we've got a really good group. I'm just excited to get on the field with them because I think that we have a lot of potential and we can take it a long ways this year. Just seeing the camaraderie on the team and how everybody gels together, I mean that is only over Zoom. I can't wait to get in the building and be able to really get to know everyone personally."
» Buckner knows he was brought in to serve a very specific — and very important — role for the Colts' defense: At 6-foot-7 and 295 pounds, Buckner has been a consistent pain in the sides of opposing offenses since being selected by the 49ers with the seventh-overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Over than span, Buckner, a team captain for the 49ers, collected 262 career tackles (38 for a loss) with 28.5 sacks, 11 passes defensed, seven fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles. He also has one fumble recovery for a touchdown and six career multiple-sack games, earning his first Pro Bowl selection in 2018 and being named Second-Team All-Pro in 2019.
Buckner was exactly what Colts general manager Chris Ballard was envisioning when he entered the offseason acknowledging the need for a dominant three-tech up front on the defensive line — someone who not only eats up space for those behind him to make plays, but a player who has elite ability as a pocket-collapsing pass rusher.
"When you really have a dominant 3-technique that can split double teams in the run game or even when you get that slide in the pass game and split double teams – be effective in both aspects of the game, I mean it is a game-changer for the defense as a whole," Buckner said. "Everybody benefits – the rest of the D-line benefits, the back end benefits from it and obviously the team does."
Buckner said Wednesday he doesn't see his role changing much from what he was doing with the 49ers to what he'll be asked to do in Indy.
"I am walking into the same situation that I was three years ago when Robert Saleh came and changed our defense to a 4-3 three years ago when I was in San Francisco," Buckner said. "So, it is the same situation for me and I feel very fortunate for that and the same expectations that the coaches expect from me. So, that's what I am very excited about."
» Buckner isn't feeling the pressure to live up to any sort of hype or expectations: Buckner has simply produced in every setting he's been in since committing to play collegiately at Oregon as a three-star defensive lineman out of Honolulu.
Buckner was a First-Team All-American for the Ducks who had 232 tackles (36 for a loss) with 18 sacks and nine passes defensed in 54 games, and then, after being taken in the top 10 of the 2016 NFL Draft, he instantly became one of the top defensive tackles at the professional level, being named to the Pro Football Writers of America All-Rookie Team, and then earning Pro Bowl (2018) and All-Pro (2019) honors from there.
Now, after sending an extremely valuable asset — the 13th-overall pick — to his former team, the Colts instantly signed Buckner to one of the most lucrative contacts for a defender in NFL history.
So, sure, those are daunting prospects for most, but Buckner is confident in the approach he's always had, which is based in hard work and discipline — not to mention some freakish size and athletic ability.
"I'm excited to be here and there is no added pressure that I feel at all," Buckner said. " I mean, I go into every season knowing that my job is up for grabs as well. I know what I do in the offseason to prepare for the season and there is no need to stress about any of it, you know what I mean? I've just got to come in and continue to do what I do and I've done my entire career in San Francisco and bring it over to the Colts. I mean it is the same game, same position I am playing and I just need to come out here and show everyone in Colts Nation what I bring to the table. I've done it for four years in San Francisco and I just need to bring it over here, continue to do what I'm doing and get better as I'm doing it.
See the best images of all-pro defensive lineman DeForest Buckner following being traded to the Indianapolis Colts from the San Francisco 49ers.