Pro Football Focus didn’t list DeForest Buckner on their top-101 players list and, of course, it contributed to the narrative that Buckner gets no respect. Buckner got the next best thing: acknowledgment that he was one of the best players kept off it.
PFF went over the top-10 players that didn’t make their list and Buckner, of course gets a nod:
Earning 81.0-plus grades in each of the past two seasons, San Francisco 49ers’ DeForest Buckner is quietly becoming a productive, consistent force for the team’s defense at just 24 years young. In 2018, he picked up career-highs in defensive stops (37) and total pressures (53) playing a mix of defensive interior and edge defender for the 49ers.
This is the most Buckner thing that could happen. Remember, Buckner got to go to the NFL Pro Bowl this year…after other defensive tackles in front of him didn’t play, whether for injury, or in Aaron Donald’s case, a Super Bowl appearance.
So once again, Buckner is kept off a list, all-star team, conversation, whatever—but is listed as the runner up. Buckner was thought to make a case for Defensive Player of the Year and came far short of that. Speaking objectively, Buckner was nowhere close to winning that award or being in the conversation for 2018.
Back to PFF’s list. Given the talent on there, it’s understandable that Buckner didn’t make the cut. This isn’t so much of a rant on Buckner not making the list as it’s amusing that Buckner again is the afterthought or runner up of something, but not slotted in on the actual list or team.
Hopefully this is fuel for 2019 when he gets an edge rusher to help him out on that defensive line.