2023 NFL Draft

2023 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Delaware LB Johnny Buchanan

From now until the 2023 NFL Draft, we will scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top-10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections and priority undrafted free agents. Today, I’ll be profiling Delaware inside linebacker Johnny Buchanan.

#33 Johnny Buchanan (Senior) — 5113, 228 Lbs


Player Ht/Wt Hand Size Arm Length Wingspan
Johnny Buchanan 5113, 228 9″ 30 3/8″ 74 7/8″
40-Yard Dash 10-Yard Dash Short Shuttle 3-Cone
4.58 1.56 4.10 7.2
Broad Jump Vertical Bench Press
10’7″ 40″ 22

The Good

-Tackling machine who is constantly around the football
-Sound, consistent tackler with good wrap and drive at point of contact
-Good overall processing skills; trusts eyes to take him to the ball
-Adequate play strength to stack and shed blockers between the tackles
-Plays with relentless motor that runs hot throughout games
-Physical force downhill taking on blocks and punishing runners
-Flashes sideline-to-sideline range
-Gets adequate depth in spot drops

The Bad

-Aggressive, attacking mindset can get him into trouble at times; takes himself out of plays he shouldn’t
-Testing numbers don’t show up on tape; doesn’t play as the quick-twitch guy testing numbers indicate
-Appears stiff, labors in drops in coverage
-Can be swallowed up by bigger, longer blockers due to length questions
-Most sacks a result of free rushes; rarely asked to beat defenders


-Played in 52 games over five seasons at Delaware, starting 29 career games
-Finished career with 326 total tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, three interceptions, four passes defensed, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries
-Posted 150 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks in 2022; 150 tackles led the FCS
-Tied a University of Delaware single-game record with 23 tackles at Navy in 2022
-Was named a Buck Buchanan Award Finalist, which is given each year to the most outstanding defensive player in FCS college football
-Named a Walter Camp and AP first-team All-American at Delaware
-Father, John, played football at Rutgers; Great Uncle, Joe Auer, played in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins; cousin, Collin Olsen, played running back at Florida International

Tape Breakdown

This late in the pre-draft process, the big names have been studied, most draft boards have been set, and the pre-draft visits are just about done.

It’s a good time to go back through some overlooked prospects though at lower levels and see what might have been missed. That’s what I did with Delaware linebacker Johnny Buchanan, an FCS All-American two years in a row with some absurd production for the Blue Hens in the middle of the defense.

Built like an old-school, downhill thumper, Buchanan certainly brings that style of play to the table.


Buchanan is a tackling machine, constantly around the football, especially in the run game.

He has good processing skills that allows him to trigger downhill against the run and get in on the action. Buchanan trusts his eyes, too, which is a huge key for linebackers. He’s very rarely fooled by misdirection and has good footwork to get to the ball carrier, wrap up and make the play.


You can see tape study show up on the field for Buchanan. He’s consistent at reading his keys and firing downhill.

Just by reading the action in front of him he knows what’s coming and is able to work downhill near the line of scrimmage for the tackle for loss. When he gets his hands on you too, you’re going down. He very rarely misses tackles, which is rather impressive for a guy constantly around the football.

While I do have some concerns about Buchanan’s length, he has shown the ability to stack and shed blockers and is constantly moving. That makes him a harder target to reach at the second level.


Nice job here of reading the pulling guard, getting eyes on the right guard attempting to climb to him, winning with the initial punch and making the stop for a short gain on the ground.

He does a very good job of staying square to the line of scrimmage the entire time, too. That is exactly how it’s taught when moving laterally to scrape and replace.


Buchanan has the speed to beat blocks in short areas, much like he does here on the screen against Albany.

Of course, the processing skills are quick, which allow him to get downhill in a hurry, but look at the burst to split the linemen on the screen, resulting in the tackle for loss. He gets small and skinny late in the rep to reduce the target size for the lineman and is able to get underneath and around for the stop.

Same thing here against Rutgers in 2021.


Good play strength there, too, to hold up with the big offensive lineman on his back while still making the tackle near the line of scrimmage.

You don’t often want to pick a side as a defender in the run game to try and defeat a block like Buchanan does, but if you have the athleticism to do it and can win often, you’ll get that freedom from your coaches. That’s what Buchanan had in college.

Though he showed some ball skills in coverage during his time at Delaware, Buchanan appeared rather stiff overall in his spot drops, even though he did gain the proper depth and had awareness. He’s much better attacking downhill though and could be a useable piece in blitzing situations at the next level.

Look at the closing speed here for the sack.


That’s pretty darn impressive, and really the only time that his high-end testing numbers truly showed up on the field.


There’s no denying Buchanan’s production, processing skills, and consistency as a tackler at the off-ball linebacker position. He’s got a good build, too, and had some impressive testing numbers from his Pro Day. He was the heart and soul of the Delaware defense, set the physical tone and was constantly around the football while making plays during his time with the Blue Hens.

The processing skills are rather impressive, as is his consistency at getting the ball carrier to the ground. He’s a relentless player with a motor that runs extremely hot every single snap. Add in the NFL bloodlines and there’s a lot to be intrigued by.

That said, the limitations in coverage and concerns about length will push him down draft boards. Still, he has the makings of an impactful special-teams piece at the next level and could develop into a sound depth piece at a very affordable price tag in the draft.

Projection: Late Day 3/Priority Free Agent

Depot Draft Grade: 6.0 Undrafted Free Agent

Games Watched: at Rutgers (2021), Albany (2021), James Madison (2021), at Navy (2022), Delaware State (2022), at Rhode Island (2022), at William & Mary (2022), at Elon (2022)

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