Where does DeForest Buckner rank among the NFL’s interior defensive linemen?

The Indianapolis Colts have a star in defensive linemen DeForest Buckner but how good is he in comparison to other interior defensive linemen?

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

In his first season in Indianapolis, Buckner played in 15 games and tallied 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 playing 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 Indy’s defensive line.

With his performance earning him league-wide recognition, where does he rank among the league’s best interior defensive linemen? Ben Linsey of PFF took on the task of placing the NFL’s interior defenders in tiers and ranking them.

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

PFF ranks DeForest Buckner as fourth-best defensive tackle

After Donald, only Cameron Heyward and Chris Jones are in front of Buckner. That speaks to the type of talent he has and the level of dominance he plays with.

Still just 28 years old, Buckner will probably become even more dangerous with the Colts. In addition to his natural development, Indy is adding other quality linemen around him.

The Colts traded for Yannick Ngakoue and have several young players like Kwity Paye who are developing. With more talent across the defensive line, it will be hard for opposing offensive lines to key in on blocking Buckner.

In the coming years, Buckner and the Colts should have a more effective pass rush and overall dominant defensive line.