Among Alabama’s players who could burst to stardom in 2018, none were as highly-ranked coming to Tuscaloosa or have a bigger opportunity to gain momentum for the 2019 NFL Draft than Isaiah Buggs. A standout season can move Buggs into the top tier of the 2019 defensive line class according to multiple way-too-early draft boards.
Buggs came to Alabama as the number one ranked JUCO defensive end and the number two player overall in the 2017 class. Buggs started 13 games in his junior season and put up better stats in every meaningful category except sacks than Da’Shawn Hand who was drafted in the 4th round of this past spring. Hand’s disappointing senior season gave way to Buggs receiving more playing time and taking full advantage.
Buggs totaled 51 tackles, four tackles for a loss, and 1.5 sacks last season in his first year with the Tide. During the Playoffs, Buggs finished with three tackles against Clemson, including one sack. In the national championship game against Georgia, Buggs totaled five tackles including one for loss.
Projected top 10 defensive lineman Raekwon Davis will receive a ton of attention throughout the season and deservedly so. This can provide a golden opportunity for Buggs to not only set the stage early in the 2018 season for scouts to notice him, but also put pressure on opposing coaches to pick their poison with Davis and Buggs opposite each other.
Buggs is relentless. It’s cliche, I know, but one of the greatest things about Buggs’ game is his motor. He’s a relentless competitor, strong, big, fast, and has a knack for getting in position to make the tackle.
With an understanding that Alabama’s front seven will need to give the secondary time to develop early in the season, Buggs and company could be given a green light to get in the backfield this fall. Again, these opportunities all align well with giving Buggs the chance to prove his 5-star ranking coming into Alabama while steadily building his ranking for the 2019 draft.
(You can follow Justin Nails on Twitter @JustinNails)
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