Both Land and Miller stood out during Senior Bowl practices and the game.
The postseason all-star game circuit is built for players from a small school to have an opportunity to show what they can do. Jackson State linebacker Aubrey Miller, Jr. and Florida A&M EDGE rusher Isaiah Land did that during their Senior Bowl experience last week.
Land considered transferring after teammate Markquese Bell went undrafted last season, but he decided to return. “After the (2022) NFL Draft, I felt like the NFL wasn’t respecting us coming out of HBCUs,” Land said. “The way they did Markquese (Bell), it just made me think that I needed to be somewhere else to achieve getting drafted.”
Land followed up his Buchanan Award-winning 2021 with a solid 2022. In 2021, Land had 19 sacks and 25.5 tackles for loss. Though he did not have the numbers in 2022, Land had a solid 7.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss season.
Miller was an anchor in the middle of Jackson State’s vaunted defense, with 65 total tackles and four forced fumbles.
What scouts had to say about each player.
Land had an unexpected opportunity to show his versatility and athleticism by moving to inside linebacker due to injuries at the position. Aubrey Miller helped him with his alignment and position, but Land adjusted quickly and did well in drills and the game. Land got just one play at EDGE, and he got a sack.
Miller did not lose many reps in drills and practice and was all over the field during the game. Steeler’s scout Ike Taylor said he (Miller) was a “dog” during the Senior Bowl game and practice.
Where could they land?
Land and Miller have to test well at the NFL Scouting Combine because of their size. Miller is under six feet tall, which is short for an inside linebacker. Though Land showed some ability inside, he’s an EDGE rusher. However, he’s under 250 pounds.
That said, being 5-foot-10 did not bother Saints legend Sam Mills during his 17-year career. Miller is a thumper that finds the football as well as any backer in this draft. Land has shown some moves as a pass rusher but will need to add weight to stand up to NFL tackles. A team could experiment with Land as an off-ball linebacker or get him in the weight room to put on some weight.
If Miller runs well, he could likely be the first HBCU player taken in the draft. Expect both players to get drafted somewhere between rounds 4-6.