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Alabama NFL Draft Prospects

Former Alabama players that have much to prove at NFL Combine

Troy Taormina - USA TODAY Sports

On Wednesday, the most exciting event begins in terms of scouting out the next wave of collegiate athletes for the National Football League. 

No matter if they were household names or just simple contributors in college, Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis) will be filled with players that look to impress NFL scouts and improve their respective draft status. While everything kicks off with registration, the University of Alabama will have ten of its products – including a few potential first-round selections. 

RELATED: Alabama will Send 11 Players to the 2019 NFL Combine

For safety Deionte Thompson, the consensus All-American and No. 1 projected player at his position will not participate in drills. He is coming off wrist surgery – according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport – and will need six to eight weeks to recover. 

Despite the expectations for Quinnen Williams, Josh Jacobs and Jonah Williams to provide exceptional workouts, there are some players from the Crimson Tide that have much to prove upon taking the field.  

Listed below are some sleepers entering the Combine. 

Damien Harris, RB 

He was one of few players that Alabama fans dubbed the nickname “ambassador,” seeing how Damien Harris represented the program in a first-class manner. Josh Jacobs has snatched all the headlines entering the week and rightfully so, due to how his style translates to the NFL. 

Even with Jacobs’ success last season, Harris was a two-time 1,000-yard rusher under Nick Saban and came 124 yards short (876 in 2018) of becoming the first running back in school history to record at least 1,000 yards in three consecutive years.

He finished with 3,070 career yards rushing, placing him eighth all-time for the Tide.

Harris posted 23 career rushing scores and anchored an attack that put Alabama in the College Football Playoff in 2016 and 2017.

The 5-foot-11, 215-pounder from Kentucky possesses all qualities of a complete player, including burst, quickness, power and vision.

Harris catches the ball well as a receiver and was strong in pass protection.

If he can find a way to separate from Jacobs and others at his position, the former five-star from the 2015 signing class will make himself some money. 

Isaiah Buggs, DL 

His height and weight at the Senior Bowl were not what most expected and an injury during the CFP caused him to be slowed; however, Isaiah Buggs was still a strong pick up for Alabama in its 2017 recruiting class as a junior college transfer.

He totaled 102 tackles (51 in both years) in his final two seasons of eligibility and had 17.5 tackles for loss with 11.0 sacks (9.5 in 2018). 

Buggs was named Player of the Week for defensive linemen at the Senior Bowl, and his quick hands serve him well as both a run stuffer and a pass rusher. The tough news for him is that aside from his former teammate – Quinnen Williams – the Louisiana native has to show scouts he’s better than Christian Wilkins of Clemson, Dexter Lawrence of Clemson, Ed Oliver of Houston, Rashan Gary of Michigan and Jeffery Simmons of Mississippi State.

He is rated at No. 103 overall and 14th– best player at his position via CBS Sports. 

Christian Miller, OLB 

He was having a dynamite senior year, until an injury sidelined him for the CFP National Championship Game versus Clemson. Christian Miller was one of the best edge rushers in college football for 2018, posting 11.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks and 12 quarterback hurries. 

Listed at 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds, Miller transformed his body prior to have the strength at the mesh point in terms of setting the edge. He was very good against the run, but the native of South Carolina was more special in affecting quarterbacks.

Like Buggs, Miller will face stiff competition at the “EDGE” position as he battles with Nick Bosa of Ohio State, Josh Allen of Kentucky, Clelin Ferrell of Clemson and Montez Sweat of Mississippi State among others. 

The biggest thing scouts will dissect is the amount of progress Miller’s hamstring has had since the injury and will be display explosiveness through various drills. 

Mack Wilson, ILB 

He enters the Combine under the brightest of microscopes. 

When one looks at what Alabama has been accustomed to at inside linebacker, the numbers from Lyndell “Mack” Wilson for 2018 did not meet expectations. He did have 71 tackles last year and tallied six career interceptions (four in 2017), but there were aspects of being a defensive captain that Wilson did not appear to take seriously.

Because of this, he was not able to properly get teammates line up in certain formations – which led to opponents finding weak spots to attack. He has worked on improving his lateral quickness and attention to details; however, with the media all over Devin White of Louisiana State University and Devin Bush of Michigan — it gives Wilson more of a reason to showcase why he deserves to be the No.1 linebacker taken. 

Saivion Smith, CB 

After what happened in his lone year at Alabama, Saivion Smith can at least look to improve his value in the minds of NFL personnel. 

The talented cornerback from Tampa, Fla., turned in two strong performances – including his game against LSU, where he was all over the field. Regardless of him finishing with the team lead in interceptions (three), opposing quarterbacks picked on Smith all season in 2018. 

He gave up multiple explosive plays – especially in the CFP title game — and if Marquise “Hollywood” Brown was not hurt prior to the Orange Bowl, Oklahoma would have matched him on Smith and attacked the former JUCO standout all game. He has elite size at 6-1/200 pounds, but Smith has to go above and beyond to make scouts look at more than just his tape.  

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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