Prospect: Michael Buchanan, DE/OLB, Illinois
Grade: 7.0 (Grading Scale)
+Elite frame and good length through the upper body.
+Bends well for a tall athlete.
+Changes direction very well, able to mirror athletic ball carriers in space.
-Will need to add some bulk to play in as a 4-3 defensive end.
+Shows off an impressive repertoire of rush moves and counters.
+Able to vary his club, swim, spin, push/pull and rip/dip moves to keep linemen off balance.
+Relentless in pursuit of the quarterback, closes very well.
+Has a good first step, gets off the snap quickly.
-Occasionally loses balance with his violent movements.
-Gets a little high in his bend and will allow the tackle to recover at times.
-Could add some more inside moves to his bag of tricks.
+Excellent open field tackler, looks comfortable in space.
+Uses strength and hands to disengage from linemen, sheds and locates the ball well.
+Delivers a powerful initial punch.
+Pursues sideline-to-sideline, good motor.
+Explodes through contact, powerful tackler.
+Anchors well for an undersized lineman.
+Spills plays to the outside when appropriate, can also force RB back inside by keeping outside arm clean.
=Sets a hard edge in college, but will need to add bulk to compete at the next level.
-Gets engulfed at times by bigger linemen.
+Uses his hands well, keeps linemen’s hands off his chest plate.
+Pad level stays low, doesn’t lose many leverage battles.
-Looks a bit awkward in his zone drops, needs to clean up his angles.
+Very disciplined in his reads, rarely misses his assignment/keys.
+Versatile player, playing the “Bandit” position.
+Respected member of the locker room according to coaches.
+Embracing more of a vocal leadership role as a senior.
-Involved in an off-season fight that resulted in a broken jaw, handled it well.
Buchanan is not your typical athletic college speed rusher. He plays the “Bandit” DE/OLB position for the Illini, for the same coach who taught Demarcus Ware and the late Gaines Adams the same position (Vic Koenning, current DC at North Carolina). As the “Bandit”, he is asked to be half pass rush end and half edge setter, two things he does very well at this point.
Although he was over-shadowed by his teammate Whitney Mercilus last year, Buchanan looks like the more complete draft prospect to me. if Buchanan can add another 10 pounds (he recently bulked up from 240 to 250) before stepping onto an NFL playing field, his upside will go that much higher and he could be attractive to both 4-3 and 3-4 teams.
-Keeps outside shoulder clean, strings out play and lays a hit for the TFL.
-Bends around edge, wraps up for another tackle for loss.
-Loses balance on club move, falls to the ground.
-Very strong tackler, wrapping up and delivering the hit each time.