Ali Highsmith went from the height of college football, a National Championship, to the depths of the NFL draft, undrafted and hoping for a call, in a mere three months. Highsmith was a year starter at LSU and had his best season in 2007, tied for the team lead with 101 tackles and third on the team with nine tackles for loss. He also broke up eight passes while recovering two fumbles and causing two more. He emerged from his college career was a possible first day pick and it seemed he was on pace after a MVP performance in the Senior Bowl. His day in the sun was derailed though by a horrible performance at the NFL Combine immediately causing numerous red flags to hang on his draft status. At a shade under six foot tall and a mere 230 pounds, Highsmith was already an undersized backer and a perceived lack of athleticism would spell doom for the young man. He'd improve his numbers greatly at LSU's pro day but by then the damage was done.
So what are Ali's chances in Arizona? Well at least for now, they seem promising. The Cardinals went in search of defensive depth in the draft and have certainly stock piled some young talent. For now he'll battle for playing time at weakside line backer behind Karlos Dansby and Matt Stewart. If he has any hopes of making the opening 53 man roster, he'll have to make a name for himself on special teams and it wouldn't hurt to be versatile enough to play at least one other LB spot.
For now it looks like the coaching staff is encouraged by not only the player that he currently is but also by the player that they believe he'll become:
"I go back to this: if you are a good enough football player, you are big enough,"
said. "If you are a good enough football player, you are fast enough. If you are a good enough football player, you are tall enough, you weigh enough. First, you look at him as a football player, and that’s what Ali is. Cardinals line backers coach Bill Davis
"At LSU this kid made all kind of plays. This guy was all over the field, he understood what was coming at him, he covered guys, and a lack of speed never showed up on film, just in a 40 yard dash. He has a great chance to make it in the NFL."
Even Karlos Dansby is impressed by what Highsmith has been able to show so far:
"He he came from an SEC school, so I have a lot of respect for him," Dansby said. "He is catching on very fast. It’s a mental game for him, but he is ahead of the curve right now. I am excited about that going into training camp – maybe I can get a breather or two."
For now it's just OTA's so there's nothing to get overly excited about but I like this kid's chances of making the opening day roster. And if he can add 10-15 pounds of bulk, he might have a chance to one day step in a weak side line backer.
Fast forward to the 4:40 minute area to see Highsmith's forced fumble in the big game.
So what do you guys think? Anyone else think he's got a future in this league?