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2017 Draft Prospects
Reuben Foster (LB)
HT: 6'0" WT: 229LBS.
ARM LENGTH: 32 3/8"
HANDS: 10 1/4"
Alabama's star inside linebacker started his ascension to elite prospect status last summer when he lost 20 pounds. His newfound speed and agility, while keeping his trademark aggression and instincts, made him a unanimous first-team All-American and All-SEC pick. Foster also won the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker and was a finalist for the Bednarik Award, leading the Tide with 115 tackles, 13 for which went for losses including five sacks. He won the SEC Championship MVP, as well (11 tackles, 2.5 for loss, two sacks). Foster was a starter as a junior (73 tackles, eight TFL, two sacks, nine pass break-ups) after two seasons as a key reserve MIKE linebacker and special teams ace (12 tackles in 2013; 22 tackles, two TFL in 2014).
SELECTED BY: 49ers
PICK (OVERALL): 31 (31)
"He reminds me of Luke Kuechly when I watch tape. He's an immediate impact player. Sideline to sideline, he will light you up. I'm amazed that he's fallen to this point. ... San Francisco better be right on him with that shoulder." -- Mike Mayock
Alpha mentality with ferocious hitting style that puts offensive skill positions on alert. Outstanding athlete with springy, reactive feet. Lost 15 pounds in off-season, which gave him more speed and explosiveness. Loose hips and long stride allows him to open and chase immediately. Has elite sideline-to-sideline range. Tough as nails. Brings swagger to a linebacking corps. Never passive and always means it. Willing to take his shots downhill and into gaps. Lands strong warning blows on climbing guards early in the game. Coverage ability is an asset. Logged 10 passes defensed in 2015. Can carry long speed against running backs on wheel routes and nine routes. Has worked to improve tackling technique, which has yielded higher success rate of finishes.
Instincts are just average. Overly reliant on speed and athleticism over instincts and feel. Can be a tick slow to respond to play-action. Inconsistent defeating blocks. Too eager to take on everyone at the point of attack. Gets shoulder covered up firing into incoming blockers. Needs to improve stack and shed technique to keep himself clean. Will drop his head at times as tackler. Poor tackling technique led to "stinger" issues early in his career.
Sources Tell Us
"He's not a MIKE linebacker. I think he's a pure run-and-hit WILL linebacker with good cover talent. I'm worried about what his medicals will show because he's had some issues with stingers during his career. I have a higher grade on him than I had on Reggie Ragland. Better pro potential to me." -- NFC director of scouting
Foster is a vicious hitter with elite playmaking range and an ability to toggle between 225 and 240 pounds. Athleticism gives him cover ability that former teammate Reggie Ragland never possessed. Has Pro Bowl potential as a 3-4 inside linebacker or a 4-3 weak-side linebacker, but concerns over his medical history could be a consideration, according to some teams.