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Cowboys draft prospect: Defensive tackle Isaiah Buggs

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There’s always a lot of interest in Crimson Tide defenders.

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Name: Isaiah Buggs
School: University of Alabama
Height: 6’5”
Weight: 286 lbs

2018 stat line: 15 games, 52 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 3 passes defensed

It’s no surprise to see a lot of defensive players from Alabama earning buzz as the draft approaches, and defensive tackle Quinnen Williams is starting to look like a lock for a top five draft pick. However, his neighbor along the defensive line, Isaiah Buggs, is also pretty impressive and could serve a role with the Cowboys if drafted by America’s Team.

Coming from Alabama, Buggs looks like a lot of the school’s other defensive line prospects to come into the draft lately, meaning he has size and strength. Buggs has a thick frame that makes him more ready for the NFL than some other defensive linemen in this draft class. His strength couples well with size and should allow Buggs to hold his own on the interior against strong guards and centers.

Where Buggs stands out the most on tape is his physicality when engaging with blockers. Buggs’ arms are long and he regularly gets full extension into the pads of the offensive linemen, acting as a forklift and driving blockers backward. He also does a good job of getting off the blocks to take on the ballcarrier, making him an asset in run defense.

Where Buggs struggles, though, is as a pass rusher. And this is where it’s a bit hard to scout Buggs because he frequently rushed the passer off the edge of the line in college and went up against offensive tackles regularly. In Dallas’ scheme, he’d be going up the middle exclusively. But in college, Buggs never showed a deep repertoire of pass moves, often relying on his physicality to win matchups, making him more of a slow-burn pass rusher.

Buggs’ biggest strength is also his weakness, at least when it comes to pass rushing skills. His massive frame and burly style of play means he isn’t particularly quick or agile, and shifty players can get away from him easily. Buggs missed out on several sacks because the quarterback was able to slip around him.

A big concern with Buggs is his level of effort. When he gives it all on a play, Buggs can be just as monstrous as Quinnen Williams. But it seems that there are far too many plays on tape where Buggs just doesn’t play at full speed. It reminds me of former North Carolina edge rusher Quinton Coples, who was inconsistent with his effort despite having immense potential. With nobody to push Coples, the former Tar Heel flamed out and hasn’t played on a team since the 2016 preseason.

In Dallas, Buggs could be in a perfect spot for him. Rod Marinelli likes a deep rotation on the defensive line, and Buggs wouldn’t be asked to play every down. Marinelli, a master defensive line coach, would surely be able to teach Buggs some useful pass rush moves, too. And a fiery presence like Kris Richard could motivate Buggs to play to his full potential with more consistency.

Based on the college tape, Buggs is a slow-burn pass rusher with tremendous physical attributes who needs some work. There are better fits for the 3-technique in this draft for Dallas, but Buggs could still play a role in a rotation for the Cowboys.