Every offseason, NFL reporter Jeremy Fowler surveys various NFL coaches, executives, and players to get their thoughts on who are the best players in the league. After gathering all of the information, Fowler releases the rankings, based off the information he gathered, along with quotes about all of the players.
He recently started releasing the 2023 version, and one of the first positions revealed was defensive tackle. Defensive tackle is one of the league’s most talented positions, headlined by Aaron Donald, of course. However, the group is really deep, and the Indianapolis Colts are lucky to have one of the best in the NFL.
Veteran defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, who’s become a staple on this list, found himself ranked again. Buckner was ranked at No. 7, three spots lower than his No. 4 ranking from last year. Based on all surveys, Buckner’s highest ranking was No. 3 and his lowest ranking was No. 9.
Colts DeForest Buckner ranked No. 7 amongst defensive tackles
Fowler and an anonymous NFL scout praised Buckner for his consistency throughout the years, highlighting that Buckner has been in the rankings since 2020, and this is the first year that he’s finished outside the top four. The scout made clear that Buckner isn’t necessarily declining, but just had a challenging year last season since the Colts defense didn’t receive much help from the offense.
""He's been so good for a long time," an NFL scout said. "It's hard to be consistent when the offense is not scoring and the defense is on the field a lot. Was a hard situation for him last year. But I thought he [maintained] his high level of play the best he could. He's still a guy you would take all day."- Anonymous NFL scout via Jeremy Fowler
Now, entering 2023, Buckner will try to lead the defense to a solid season, and hope Indy’s refined offense can be more productive. Helping Buckner on the defensive line will be fellow defensive tackle Grover Stewart, who’s also one of the best in the league. Stewart wasn’t voted into the top 10, but he was apart of the group that received votes.
With Stewart and Buckner up front, Zaire Franklin and Shaquille Leonard at the second level, and Kenny Moore II leading a young but talented secondary, the Colts defense could be a solid unit in 2023.