Thursday night marks the beginning of the 2018 NFL Draft, a three-day event in which the 32 NFL teams select former college football players over the course of seven rounds.
Three former local standouts are part of this year’s draft class. Here’s a look at their stories as they hope to take the next step in their playing careers.
Christian Campbell, cornerback, Central-Phenix City High School - The former Central Red Devil played in 43 games over his college career at Penn State, which included 13 starts for the Nittany Lions in 2017. The 6-foot-1, 194-pounder had 45 tackles, 12 pass breakups and one interception in his senior season and ended the year with a spot on the All-Big Ten honorable mention squad.
Campbell is ranked as the 26th cornerback, according to ESPN’s draft board. Several mock drafts have Campbell slated as a mid-round draft pick, meaning his name should be called Friday or Saturday.
Justin Crawford, running back, Hardaway High School - The Hardaway Hawk made a name for himself in football on a journey that took him from Columbus to Northwest Mississippi Community College to West Virginia.
After working at a Taco Bell in Morgantown, Crawford traded in his tacos for touchdowns and rushed for 2,244 yards and 11 touchdowns in his two seasons as a Mountaineer. One of the major highlights of his career came against Oklahoma in 2016, when the then-junior rushed for 331 yards.
The 6-foot, 200-pound Crawford had a lackluster NFL Combine and is slated as the No. 28 running back in the class by WalterFootball.com. Crawford will likely be a late-round draft pick or an undrafted free agent signing.
Siran Neal, Eufaula, safety, Eufaula High School - Neal transferred to Eufaula from Abbeville for his senior year and made the most of his time there, earning a first team All-State selection as a Tiger.
Neal shined on defense at Jacksonville State, tallying 39 tackles with 11 pass breakups, one forced fumble and one interception his senior season. The 6-foot, 206-pound Neal earned a spot at the Senior Bowl, where he caught a few eye with his work.
Neal played cornerback at Jacksonville State, but some scouts see Neal playing safety at the next level. WalterFootball.com ranks him as the 11th-best safety in this year’s class.
Neal has a chance to sneak into one of the the middle rounds of the draft. Whether or not he is drafted, he should get a shot at making an NFL roster.