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Deforest Buckner ranks sixth on’s top-10 defensive tackles

And he might play like he’s number 1.

The San Francisco 49ers roster is starting to get a lot of bright spots from the last two drafts/free agency periods, but one bright spot that has been lit long before the roster turnover was DeForest Buckner. Since his rookie season, Buckner has done nothing but improve and now he’s quickly emerging as one of the best defensive players in the NFC.’s Shaun O’Hara put together the top 10 defensive tackles for 2018 and Buckner comes in at No. 6. Here’s what O’Hara had to say about the ranking:

A top-10 draft pick in 2016, Buckner has done a nice job applying pressure from the inside (including nine sacks in two seasons and 24 QB hits in 2017 alone), despite not being flanked by the best defensive talent in San Francisco. With John Lynch improving the supporting cast, we could be in for a real breakout season from Buckner in 2018.

Buckner was on an island for 2017 and the most productive player on the defensive line. The issue has been the pieces around him. If the 49ers can get Solomon Thomas up to speed and get Arik Armstead to stay healthy, Buckner won’t be dealing with the double and triple teams offenses tried to do and will get to the quarterback before he hits the ball.

Though even when ganged up on, Buckner had no problems getting to the quarterback — they just threw the ball before he could sack them. There’s no doubt that he’s going to be in for a big payday when his contract is up the next few years. His rookie contract runs through 2019, and the 49ers hold a fifth year option on him for 2020. They have to decide on the option following this season, at which point they can also sign him to a contract extension. They likely will have him play 2019 on his rookie deal, but I could see a deal getting done following the 2019 season.