Reuben Foster, Alabama [ILB] – Tom Like

Name: Reuben Foster

Position: ILB

School: Alabama

Class: Senior

Height: 6 foot 1 (school measurements)

Weight: 228lbs (school measurements)

40-time: N/A

Games Watched: 2015 – Michigan State, Clemson. 2016 – Tennessee, Texas A&M, Clemson

Honours:

  • 2016 Butkus Award (Nation’s best Linebacker)
  • 2016 Unanimous First Team All-American
  • 2016 First Team All-SEC
  • 2016 Nagurski Trophy Finalist (FWAA’s best Defensive Player)

 

  • No.2 overall prospect in the country by Scout.com
  • Consensus no.1 Inside Linebacker in Recruiting Class
  • Five-star prospect according to Rivals.com, Scout.com and 247 Sports
  • USA TODAY High-School All-American

 

Production:

Foster was tremendous in 2016. He was the leader and signal caller of a Defense that led the nation in rush Defense (63.9 ypg), scoring Defense (13.0 ppg) and ranked second in total defense (261.8 ypg). Foster tallied 115 tackles, 13.0 TFL, 5.0 Sacks, 8 QB Hurries and 2 Passes Broken Up in 15 games.

Reuben Foster started at Inside Linebacker, in his Junior season, 2015, next to Reggie Ragland. In 15 Games, Foster registered 73 total tackles, 8.0 TFL, 1.0 Sack, 3 QB Hurries and 9 Passes Broken Up  

(Jason Getz/ USA TODAY Sports

Strengths:

The first thing that stands out about Reuben Foster is that he is an elite run defender. He is outstanding in shutting down opponents run games, whether it’s taking on blocks or reading a play and darting through a pile of bodies to locate the football and make a tackle in the back field. Fosters speed and quick reactions compliments his ability as a sure tackler. The word ‘aggressive’ is rightly associated with Foster as he is a hard-hitting, physical Inside Linebacker who’s aggression is at times jaw-dropping.

He is well-built with a nearly unstoppable motor, displaying elite sideline-to-sideline range. He has non-stop explosiveness that lasts all game and he uses the power in his legs to drive blockers backwards. His aggression, speed and technique are all weapons that uses in fighting off blocks and leaving an imprint on his opponents, by delivering big hits. Importantly, Foster does not sacrifice proper technique when delivering punishing hits and rarely misses tackles.

Every year, great Linebackers against the run come out of College Football. What separates Foster and makes him special, is the athleticism he displays. He lost 20lbs last summer and kept his trademark aggression to go along with new found speed and agility. Foster has the potential to line up opposite Tight Ends in the slot or monitor RBs out of the backfield. Foster has also demonstrated the ability to be brought down near the line on blitzes. He can either crash through the A-Gap or use his speed to turn the corner on the QBs blind side, on C-Gap Blitzes. He is a natural leader and not just the best Linebacker in the nation, but the most complete one. 

 

Weaknesses:

Foster’s only real weaknesses relate to when he is playing in coverage. This is something that he was not regularly required to do in Alabama’s scheme. This is a common problem for Linebacking prospects out of college, who regularly lack the necessary polish and technique (or athleticism) to cover Tight Ends or Running Backs in the NFL. 

Foster’s pass coverage skills are not polished to pro standard and at times he lacks natural hip fluidity required to cover predominantly pass-catching TEs. He can also be a tick slow reacting to play action and has a tendency to leave his eyes on the QB for too long, allowing receivers to slip past him in zone coverage. Foster can sometimes be too aggressive for his own good – case in point, the recent Championship game vs. Clemson where he could easily have been ejected for targeting. Foster has also had medical issues with stingers during his career due to the physical nature of his game.

 

Bottom Line

Reuben Foster is an old school Linebacker, a true thumper who can physically exert his will on opponents. But he also possesses the athletic traits required to excel in today’s ‘pass happy’ NFL. Foster was the leader and focal point on College Football’s most dominant Defense. He is a complete Linebacking prospect who excels in run defense and has the physical tools to shadow TEs and RBs in pass coverage. Foster is a natural leader and tone-setter who many Defensive Co-ordinators would love to plug in and build around in the future.

He is listed at under 230lbs but doesn’t look like it on tape. He’s a punishing tackler with great vertical range and a play making force. Foster brings that Alpha mentality that most coaches look for in ILB’s and could easily be plugged into any NFL Defense and immediately upgrade the entire unit. He has great closing speed and can shut down outside runs or wheel routes/ screens out the backfield. Foster is one of the most explosive ILB prospects of the past half a decade and has the potential to be a Pro-Bowl caliber player, early in his NFL career. 

 

Round Grade:

Top-10 Pick.