Prospect: Michael Buchanan, DE, IllinoisMichael Buchanan

Height: 6’5⅜”

Weight: 255 lb.

Athleticism:

  • Lacks open field speed needed to be maximize impact at his size, even more problematic if he adds weight
  • Extremely quick feet trying to pick his way through traffic, twitchy even
  • Not overly flexible, hips get stiff as an edge rusher, struggles to bend with balance
  • Very lean frame throughout, still needs to fill out and add bulk/strength

Intelligence/Effort:

  • Struggles with gap discipline and is fooled by misdirection type plays, undeveloped football IQ
  • Takes poor angles on the ball coming from a position of space
  • Doesn’t have developed technical skills or pass rush moves despite 32 career starts for the Illini
  • Emotional livewire on the field, likes to give the refs an earful when he thinks he’s been held
  • High motor in pursuit of the quarterback and downfield

Pass Rush:

  • Primarily a one directional pass rusher who struggles to redirect when blocker has a beat on his initial move
  • Easily rooted off his pass rush arcs due to high pads and lack of resistance strength, must completely clear blocks to get home
  • Possesses a lightning quick spin move but struggles with the timing of it
  • Use of a power rush entirely negligible, lacks a strong first punch as well
  • Lacks an arsenal of pass rush moves, more of a one trick rusher than anything
  • Gets long arms into passing lanes and tips balls at an effective rate
  • Balls batted predominantly when he drifts back from his rush to eye the quarterback, not while engaged

Run Support:

  • Struggles to anchor blockers at the point of attack, lacks strength and girth in the lower half
  • Keeps outside shoulder free when he recognizes need to set the edge, does so effectively
  • Labors getting off blocks and doesn’t often free himself completely of contact
  • Had high number of “nearly” plays as result of failure to get off blocks, low impact tackler if he gets there
  • Flashes penetrating ability with swim move and quick first step to shoot gaps and disrupt

Technique:

  • Has active hands to affect blockers but to the point of dominating control, usually more reactive than forcing the issue with his hands
  • Plays with high pads in every aspect of his game, gives up too much of his chest to blockers as well

Overall:

Michael Buchanan was a well-hyped pass rusher entering his senior season, but things didn’t quite go as planned.  In June, he suffered a broken jaw in an altercation and it was wired shut.  As a result, it was reported that he lost some of his playing weight and could affect his play.  That’s purely speculation, but he really did struggle as senior.  His sacks fell from 7.5 as a junior to 4.5 as a senior and tackles for loss from 13.5 to 7.  As his style of play dictates, he’s essentially an all-or-nothing kind of player on every snap.  Either he blows past the tackle and sacks the quarterback with ease (which doesn’t happen that often) or he gets rooted off his arc and runs way past him trying to make a huge play.  That same approach translates to his run defense as well.  Buchanan may be more of a project than people realize.  He’s going to be a liability until he fills out.  He still needs to develop a repertoire of pass rush moves.  Buchanan is a fantastic athlete with quickness and acceleration, but he still hasn’t started maximized his potential yet.  Due to a relatively high ceiling, he’ll probably be drafted higher, but I view him as a prospect you can’t possibly pick until day three of the draft.

Originally published at DetroitLionsDraft.com: Michael Buchanan Scouting Report

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