On an Alabama defense that ranked 1st in the country this season, Reuben Foster was the leader and signal caller at inside linebacker. A unanimous All American and winner of the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker, Foster enjoyed a prestigious career for the Crimson Tide where he racked up the accolades and production.
Despite growing up in Auburn, Alabama and even attending high school there, Foster elected to enroll in Tuscaloosa and play for Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide, deciding to do so after initially committing to Auburn. After a whacky recruiting stage for Foster, an even further bizarre development regarding that situation, Foster has an Auburn tattoo on his right forearm.
Foster caught a lot of heat for flipping from Auburn to Alabama, along with the whole tattoo situation – it was so bad that he even considered giving up football all together. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but Foster needed to do what was “best for him and his daughter”. Now 4 years later, he’s set to be a 1st round draft pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Name: Reuben Foster
Comparison: Bobby Wagner (Seattle Seahawks)
Draft Grade: Top 15
Positives: Best tackler in the draft class. Secures ball carriers with ease. Makes physical tackles. Delivers big blows in run pursuit. Strong player who can corral ball carriers with one armed tackles. You’ll always see him getting in on gang tackles. Knows when to make the dive tackles and usually trips up the ball carrier. Plays great against the run and often gets in the backfield to make tackles for loss. Unteachable instincts. Reacts to plays on the instant, especially short passes. Reads and diagnoses plays before the snap. Plays with tremendous awareness. Doesn’t get fooled on read option or play action. Very good coverage skills. Shows swift backdrop in zone coverage. Sticks to his receiver step-for-step in man. Recovers well in coverage. Effective blitzer. Runs with quick feet and capable speed to fly around from sideline-to-sideline. Agile athlete who can cut and stop on a dime. Positions himself well to make plays and displays wide closing range. Leader and signal caller of top Alabama defense. Extremely disciplined and reliable – never a liability. Lost 15 pounds prior to senior year in order to become more explosive.
Negatives: Lacks top-end speed and the elite athleticism you’d like to see from a 1st round linebacker. Occasionally slips in lateral movement when in zone coverage.
Outlook: Foster is without a doubt the top LB prospect in the draft. He’s not an explosive, physical specimen, but he does just about everything well. Foster makes all the tackles and his coverage skills have vastly improved from his junior year. A complete LB prospect with all the tools to be one of the best at the next level. A true leader who leads by example. Foster could slip into the top 10, but he’ll more likely be selected in the 10-15 range.