Colts DL Admits He Takes Elements of Aaron Donald’s Game

DeForest Buckner

Getty DeForest Buckner sacks former Los Angeles Rams quarterback Case Keenum during a time the defensive lineman was in the NFC West. The ex-San Francisco 49er will now face the Rams on Sunday, September 19, as an Indianapolis Colt.

In the NBA, LeBron James learned from watching Kobe Bryant. In the NFL, Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers and others have learned from watching Tom Brady.

Even defensive linemen learn from watching the most superior and elite defender right now: Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams.

And in the case of DeForest Buckner of the Indianapolis Colts who will soon line up against his old NFC West adversary on Sunday, the former San Francisco 49er told the Indianapolis media on Wednesday, September 15, that he scouts Donald and looks into what makes him a stout defender.

“Every time the Rams play, I watch Aaron,” Buckner said following Wednesday practice. “He’s a force. He’s a one-man wrecking crew. You definitely, obviously, have to know where he’s at all times. If you leave him one-on-one with anybody, he’s going to do his due.”

Does Buckner Have a Similar Skill Set to A.D.?

Buckner is far different from A.D.

Height wise, Buckner stands at a towering, left tackle-like 6-foot-7, 300-pounds – giving him a six-inch height advantage over the Rams’ captain.

Buckner played Power 5 college football like Donald. But he played on the west coast at Oregon while Donald starred at the University of Pittsburgh.

The former Oregon Duck and 49er says he and A.D. are “different builds.” However, he tries to use what he observes from Donald when engaging with offensive linemen.

“Obviously, he’s got different skill sets and little things like that. But I mean, I kind of look at certain things that he does and I’m like ‘Alright, let me try and do some of his things,'” Buckner said. “But I try to do that with all kinds of players – I look at their game and see what I can grasp from them. If it works, it does. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”

Buckner is one Colt with Past Success Against the Rams

There was also a time when the 27-year-old Buckner was trying to wreck the Rams’ trenches. Sunday will be his ninth game against his former division rival.

According to Pro Football Reference, Buckner is 5-3 overall against L.A. He also has a two-game winning streak over the Rams, with his last two wins coming as a 49er.

Buckner’s stats against the Rams: 16 solo tackles, four tackles for a loss and six quarterback hits. However, his lone sack against the Rams came on Christmas Eve of 2016, before Sean McVay became head coach of L.A.

Though he’s been on teams that got the better end of the Rams, he’s still taking this version of L.A. seriously.

“We actually sat down as a defense and watched the first 15 minutes of the Chicago game,” Buckner revealed. “And they had a fair share of empty plays where they just lined up and let them sling it back there.”

One thing noticeable: The bevy of motions the Rams try to hit defenses with.

“They got a lot of jet motion/orbit motion little things like that to kind of get you looking elsewhere, especially the back end,” Buckner said.

Last week against Seattle, Buckner was one of three Colts who produced a sack. According to Pro Football Focus, Buckner was on the field for 47 defensive plays, but 29 had him plugged in the “B” gap (between the guard and tackle).

In all likelihood, Buckner will cross paths with Rams left guard David Edwards and left tackle Andrew Whitworth. Both linemen received an 82 and 66.8 rating, respectively, from PFF following the Chicago Bears win.

However, there’s the chance Buckner will tangle with right guard Austin Corbett and right tackle Rob Havenstein. Both men passed blocked on 28 plays versus the Bears. And between them, only Corbett allowed one QB pressure. Havenstein mostly went against Bears All-Pro Khalil Mack and kept him in check by not allowing a sack or one QB hurry.

We’ll see what rush moves Buckner uses after watching A.D. come Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

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