Jets 2017 NFL Draft Profile: Alabama ILB Reuben Foster

Let me know if this sounds familiar: Today we are breaking down a potential first-round draft prospect from the University of Alabama.

The Crimson Tide has had no shortage of NFL Draft prospects since Nick Saban’s arrival in 2007. From Julio Jones to Dont’a Hightower to Ha Ha Cinton-Dix, Alabama has arguably been the most plentiful and consistent producer of NFL talent in college football.

The potential NFL talent we will be looking at here is inside linebacker Reuben Foster.

How he’s ranked:

CBSSports.com: No. 1 ILB, No. 10 overall prospect

NFL.com’s Mike Mayock: No. 1 LB

ESPN.com: No. 1 LB, No. 9 overall prospect

Scout’s take:

NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein: “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.”

Ryan’s take:

Reuben Foster is a tackling machine. Plain and simple as that. The Alabama senior was a unanimous first team All-American in 2016, totaling 103 tackles for an Alabama team that was second in the FBS in total defense. These numbers also earned him 2016 SEC Defensive Player of the Year.

What I find most impressive about Foster is his almost automatic ability to convert contact into a tackle. When the speedy Foster runs at a player, he is able to break down, bite the ball and drive the offensive player to the ground. This tackle he makes of Texas A&M running back Trayveon Williams is textbook form.

Foster tackle 1

Gif courtesy of Draft Breakdown

Here’s another great tackle Foster made of Florida’s Brandon Powell. Watch as Powell attempts to fake Foster out. The linebacker doesn’t fall for the juke, holds his ground, and makes the tackle.

Foster not faked outFoster not faked out 2

Gifs courtesy of Draft Breakdown

Foster’s speed and 6-foot, 230-pound frame allow him to make explosive hits. Even during this sack of Tennessee quarterback (and 2017 NFL Draft prospect) Joshua Dobbs when Foster runs into a blocker, he is able to drive through the block, peel off and pick up the sack on third down.

Foster Sack

Gif courtesy of Draft Breakdown

Foster has also proven to be a very capable downhill runner when he needs to be, such as during this play against Texas A&M. Foster is able to explode through a gap and pick up a tackle for a loss.

Foster tackle for loss

Gif courtesy of Draft Breakdown

While Foster’s talent cannot be denied, there are numerous red flags that surround him.

The first issue is his medical history. Foster underwent rotator cuff surgery back in February and is still recovering. His tackling technique has been known to produce quite a few “stingers.”

Foster’s second red flag is a big one. Foster was sent home from the combine in February due to a “heated altercation” he got into with a hospital worker there, immediately sparking debate over Foster’s character.

On top of that, Foster recently admitted that he failed a drug test at the combine because his urine sample came back as dilute. He said that it was likely because he was sick at the time of the combine.

So is he worth the risk? I believe so. Regardless of his health and potential character issues, Reuben Foster is far and away the best linebacker in what is otherwise a very thin linebacker class in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Do I think the Jets should take him at 6? No. However, if they were to trade down, pairing Foster up with last year’s first round pick, middle linebacker Darron Lee, could make for a fearsome young duo setting the tone for the defense for years to come.

Feature image courtesy of rolltide.com

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