2013 NFL Combine: Michael Buchanan views himself as more versatile than Whitney Mercilus

Bradley Leeb-US PRESSWIRE

Buchanan emphasized his experience in the "LEO" role and how that will prepare him for whatever he's asked to do in the NFL.

INDIANAPOLIS -- Illinois hasn't been short on NFL prospects in recent years, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. The latest is defensive end Michael Buchanan.

Buchanan entered his senior season as a potential first-round pick after collecting 7.5 sacks as a junior. But a decrease in his production and a disappointing season from the Illini has caused Buchanan to slip into that second-day mix.

Still, Buchanan doesn't regret his decision to return to school and knows he's prepared to make the jump to the NFL, regardless of position. Buchanan spent time playing linebacker, defensive end, and a hybrid, known as the "LEO," which the Jaguars and Seahawks both deploy on defense. He's counting on his versatility to help him right away in the NFL.

"That's the good thing about the position I played in college I believe," Buchanan said on Saturday. "I did so much of that. I played the LEO at Illinois, so I'm definitely prepared. I feel like I'm very versatile and feel like I can do anything I'm asked to do."

Buchanan was excited to talk about the recent success of Illinois' front-seven players in the NFL, but insisted he's different from Whitney Mercilus, who was drafted in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans.

"Just my body type," Buchanan said. "Whitney's a shorter, more solid guy. I'm taller and a bit more lean. Whitney and I are very similar, we both have tremendous speed we both have good agility.

"I'm a little bit longer," Buchanan added. "I feel like I can do more for a football team when it comes to covering guys and doing different things, playing a true outside linebacker."

Buchanan hopes he can be the next line of the successful Illinois draft picks.

"We've kind of started a tradition there,'' Buchanan said. "We've had some first-rounders come out the last (few) years. I definitely see myself as being that next guy.''

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