STRENGTHS - An elite athlete, Buchanan flashes an explosive burst off the ball and combined with his speed he can beat the OT around the corner with surprising ease. Surprisingly agile and quick, Buchanan can change directions fast to beat OT around corner and back inside. Using his long arms effectively enables him to defeat OT with good hand-use/pass rush moves. On running plays away he is quick getting inside the backside block, starts down the LOS fast and has the playing speed to chase down plays in pursuit with surprising ease. He also shows off shocking speed freeing up from block on run to his side and tracking down the ball carrier before they can turn the corner. On runs to his side, he is excellent taking on TE run block, strings out the play, maintains contain, sheds block and makes tackles consistently. He has experience dropping off the ball into coverage and is surprisingly smooth and fluid playing in space.
WEAKNESSES - Long and linear, Buchanan looks thin for a DE and even an OLB despite having good measured weight. He has been used primarily going forward as a pass rusher and despite some experience dropping off the ball into coverage, he is going to need a lot of work playing in space. While he is very effective taking on and defeating TE run blocks, he gets tied up and blocked out of the play consistently by OT's which is why he is best playing OLB than DE. Hindering his ability to be consistent rushing the passer is his tendency to get upright and lose leverage right after the snap. Once he loses leverage, blockers can tie him up and he struggles to shed quick enough to get involved in the play. The biggest issue hindering Buchanan is that he does not play aggressively or compete at a high level every snap - He must improve his intensity/competitiveness if he is ever going to be the player he has the talent to be.
SUMMARY - He is an extremely frustrating player because when I evaluated Whitney Mercilus for the 2012 NFL Draft, Buchanan was more explosive and productive than Mercilus in nearly every game I evaluated. However, Buchanan's 2012 season was disappointing as he did not produce at a high level consistently and way too often was a non-factor. After a down 2012 season, Buchanan had a chance to get things back on the right track at the Senior Bowl, but he did not step up and have a great week. While he has the height, long arms, athleticism and pass rush skills to play defensive end for a 43 defense, his struggles defeating OT blocks which is why I believe he is best suited to make the switch to OLB in a 34 scheme. Overall, I have a feeling that Buchanan will be drafted higher than I have him rated because of his physical talent, but if he does not improve his competitiveness and aggressiveness he will never become a consistently productive NFL player.