The Buck Buchanan Award, given annually to the best defensive player of the year in the FBS, was just given for the 26th time. Who was the lucky recipient?
2020-21 Buchanan Award Winner:
Jordan Lewis, DE, Southern University
The Buck Buchanan Award was created in 1995 and is awarded to the most outstanding defensive player in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). This year marked the 26th straight season the award has been given out and this year’s winner was Southern University’s junior defensive end, Jordan Lewis.
The Buchanan Award is named after the former Grambling State lineman who went on to star in the AFL and NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs. Ironically, Lewis is the first player from the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) to win the award.
Lewis beat out 17 other Buck Buchanan finalists, including Colby Campbell (LB, Presbyterian) and Stone Snyder (LB, VMI). Lewis, a 6’3″, 195 lb junior from Ocala, Florida, ranked number one in regular-season tackles for loss (15), tackles for loss per game (3.0), tackle yardage for loss (82), sacks (10.5), sacks per game (2.1), and sack yardage (73) — and doing so in just five games.
Jordan Lewis finished with 27 overall tackles (19 solos), posting season highs of 11 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, and a forced fumble in a victory at Alabama State. His 10.5 sacks led the nation in the FCS division. Lewis, in the first game of the season 2021 season, had the best overall game of his career on the road at Alabama State.
He recorded 11 tackles, 8 solos, 5 TFLs, 4 sacks, and 1 forced fumble. The impact Lewis had on the game led Southern to a 24-21 win to start the season. Just before the season’s end, Lewis had five tackles, four solos, four and a half TFLs, and three sacks on the road against Jackson State. It’s this type of play that will catch the eyes of NFL scouts.
Speaking of the NFL, the professional outlook for Lewis is a mixed bag at the moment. Talent and skill-wise, Lewis has everything you could ask for in a pass rusher. He has the length and quickness to be a very good player at the next level. However, he will have to add bulk and develop his frame, without losing his quickness.
There is some concern about the big jump in competition level, as he will be going from the FCS to the NFL. Many players have successfully made that jump, so he just has to prove that he can be one of them. Lewis will be entering his senior season and scouts will be watching him closely, to see what improvements he makes to his game.
As I mentioned, Lewis needs to add bulk and strength while not losing any of his quickness or burst. That’s what I wanna see the most from him. At 6’3”, he has the frame and length of prototypical edge rushers, so there is a lot of room for potential growth. I also want to see how he adjusts to opposing offenses adjusting to him having such a big breakout season last year.
I know it was a small sample size (five games played) last year, but he was on record pace in a lot of categories. Now that we have Covid-19 behind us, for the most part, I will be watching closely to see what he does over the course of a full season.
If Lewis continues with this progression, he’ll be a day three pick, being selected somewhere in the sixth or seventh round. Pass rushers are a hot commodity, and some team will take a shot on him. With a great season in which he checks all of the boxes, Lewis could get drafted in the fifth round. He has lots of potential and upside but will need to confirm that this season.
In fantasy, Lewis will be a super sleeper, but one worth keeping a close eye on. Every year we see a player from the lower divisions of college football become a hot name, and Lewis could be that guy in the 2022 draft process.
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