As has been discussed often here on BCC, with new head coach Gus Bradley at the helm of the Jaguars organization, the team is expected to incorporate the LEO position to their defense. While there are some potential fits for the position in the first round, if the Jaguars elect to draft another position, there are other players in the draft that they could target to fill that role. One such player is Illinois defensive end/linebacker Michael Buchanan.
|NFL Comparison||---||Projection||2nd-4th round|
Buchanan, at 6-5, 252 pounds, is certainly a versatile player that had many different responsibilities at Illinois that he filled very well. As can be seen by the video, he was far from just a defensive end in the Illinois defense, as he switched from one side of the line to the other regularly and often stood up for plays in a linebacker role. He filled the "bandit" position for the Illini, which is to say that he was a defensive end for four-man fronts, but would stood up to provide the team with a pass-rushing linebacker in 3-3 nickel sets.
With plenty of height and athleticism, Buchanan looks, moves and plays similarly to Oregon linebacker Dion Jordan, albeit a lesser version. A couple inches shorter than Jordan, a few ticks of a second slower and not quite as physically gifted at bending around the corner, Buchanan is essentially the poor man's, second-day-version of Jordan.
Buchanan has plenty of pass rushing moves already and has the strong first step necessary to get into the backfield right away. He needs to work on his ankle flexibility, though, to dip his shoulder and turn better around the edge as he was pushed wide too often after a strong burst off the line of scrimmage
Good in space, Buchanan also offers versatility in that he can be trusted to drop into coverage at 6-5. With good instincts and quickness, he doesn't look uncomfortable in roles other than rushing the passer and even when he's after the quarterback he does a very good job of getting in the throwing lane and using his tall frame to bat balls away.
Where Buchanan is a liability most will be against the run as he doesn't really have the strength to shed blocks against larger offensive lineman and can be engulfed at times. Similar to what Alfie said in his preview of Western Kentucky's Quanterus Smith though, Buchanan's role with the team would not be to demand double teams against the run.
Buchanan did a strong enough job at the collegiate level at setting the edge and, although he may struggle at the next level, he can be about as effective against the run as needed from the LEO position.
At the Senior Bowl practices, Eric Galko of Optimum Scouting called Buchanan "the most talented DE" in attendance and complimented his active hands and aggressiveness. Tony Pauline of TFY Draft wasn't as impressed saying that he "doesn't have the strength to hold up at defensive end," but that really wouldn't be his role.
What a team gets with Buchanan is a very solid pass rusher that will use his hands well, has a strong burst off the line and can compete to be the starting LEO in the Jacksonville defense right away. While he has been called a "tweener" by many and there are concerns about his size to fit in a 4-3, but the LEO position wouldn't be that conventional role.