Improving NFL Draft Stock? | SWAC Stars Aubrey Miller Jr. And Isaiah Land Shine At Senior Bowl

The Reese’s Senior Bowl is an opportunity for seniors to show out against their peers in preparation for April’s NFL draft.

Each year, players who receive less recognition from NFL scouts because of where they play or who they play for, show up and show out.

This year was no different as Jackson State Tigers do-it-all linebacker Aubrey Miller Jr., and FAMU Rattlers elite edge rusher Isaiah Land showed why they should hear their names called in April’s draft.

HBCU Players Shine In Senior Bowl

Miller made waves with the brute strength and physicality that made him a favorite of former head coach Deion Sanders, defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman and fiery linebackers coach Andre Hart. 

Isaiah Land Is Deadly Edge Rusher 

As for Land, it’s his speed and get off on the edge that teams crave in today’s NFL. In a passing league, his ability to harass the opposing team’s passer is a highly coveted skill.

And based on Saturday’s performance both took turns showing what they do best.

Miller tallied seven total tackles and Land had 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack. Even more impressive for Land is he was moved to inside linebacker after playing his college career as a rush end.

Miller and Land were the two starting inside linebackers for the American team. Coach Prime and FAMU head coach Willie Simmons didn’t just coach players at HBCUs, they also developed NFL talent. 

HBCU Players: 2023 NFL Draft 

Prior to Saturday’s game Miller and Land both reflected on how far they’ve come.

Miller the 2022 SWAC DPOY, was also named Defensive Player of the Day during the week by The Draft Network.

The excitable yet always composed Miller told reporters this at the Senior Bowl.

“All it is is just work. If you work hard, you going to get what you put in. … Like I said, all it is just work,” said Miller. “I know, just make me keep playing the same game we’ve been playing. We, Jackson State, got coached by some real great coaches. Our coaches have been in the league. Coaches that had their explosion, had that opportunity, so know we got to make sure we representing and keep taking on what we’ve been learning.”

Land reflected on his time at in college as well, and how FAMU prepared him for this moment. The 2021 Buck Buchanan Award winner as the top defensive player in FCS, told the Tallahassee Democrat: 

“I think about FAMU and where I came from every day. Doing well at the Senior Bowl will say a lot about the guys back home. I got to dominate and execute because people around the world don’t know too much about FAMU. And if they do, they don’t see us as the same level as the Georgias and Alabamas.

Miller And Land Hope To Join Four HBCU Players Taken In 2022 NFL Draft

After having no players taken at all in the 2021 NFL draft and just one in 2020, HBCUs saw four players taken in last year’s draft. The Super Bowl-bound Chiefs drafted cornerback Joshua Williams out of D2 Fayetteville State, and he played a huge role in helping them get there. The Lions drafted James Houston a former teammate of the aforementioned Miller at JSU. He went out and had 8.5 sacks in just seven games played.

The Rams took former MEAC Defensive Player of the Year in cornerback DeCobie Durant, and he was so impressive the team is considering moving on from All-Pro Jalen Ramsey in a cap saving move. The Bears took swing offensive lineman Ja’Tyre Carter, who didn’t see much time but will be expected to help keep franchise QB Justin Fields upright next season.

Expect to hear both Miller and Land’s names called in April. They’re two HBCU standouts with skill sets that NFL teams covet, and they won’t be overlooked.

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