Scouting report: Michael Buchanan

May, 11, 2013
Continuing our scouting report series with a look at the first of two Patriots seventh-round picks, defensive end/outside linebacker Michael Buchanan.

[+] EnlargeMichael Buchanan
Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY SportsWill Michael Buchanan's skill set be enough to make an impact?
Alignment: Buchanan was used as both a defensive end and stand-up linebacker for Illinois. In the Fighting Illini's base defensive package, Buchanan played as an end, either with a hand in the dirt or standing up in a two-point stance. In some of their sub packages he was used as a stand-up linebacker in a bubble alignment (roughly 3 yards behind the line of scrimmage).

Build/athleticism: Buchanan is a long, wiry player on film who appeared thicker in person when we met him at the start of rookie minicamp. He's a smooth, nimble defensive lineman with good hips and good quickness. He has the ability to torque his body and bend the corner as a rusher and shows good closing ability as a backside run defender.

Skills/traits: Buchanan was regarded by many as more of a pass-rushing defensive end than a run-stuffer, and though his production was down from the 2011 to 2012 season, he still flashed quickness off the snap and a developed arsenal of rushing techniques to generate pressure. He shows a good two-hand shiver to fight through an opposing offensive tackle, though he has room to develop more counter pass-rush moves when he gets caught up against a tackle. Buchanan slithered around too many blocks as a run defender (this hurt him on occasion when defending read-option plays in college) and needs to work on squaring up and taking on blocks. He showed sufficient in-line strength to stack a tackle or tight end.

Projection: There's a mixed bag of thoughts relating to Buchanan, as he has impressive movement skills for a player of his size and enough pass-rushing ability to project as a possible factor. But he needs to become a more consistent run defender and put on some weight to hold up against bigger tackles. When we scouted Jamie Collins, we mentioned the possibility of the Patriots' using him as a stand-up outside linebacker in some 3-4 fronts. If the team were to implement some of those fronts for 2013, Buchanan might be an option to play on the edge as well. As is the case with many seventh-round picks, Buchanan will need to contribute on special teams, and he has the athleticism to do that early on in his career.
Field Yates has previous experience interning with the New England Patriots on both their coaching and scouting staffs. A graduate of Wesleyan University (CT), he is a regular contributor to ESPN Boston's Patriots coverage and ESPN Insider.



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