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If Reuben Foster Falls in the Draft, the Eagles Need to Jump

Reuben Foster Photo via Stuart McNair of Scout.com

Reuben Foster, a linebacker from Alabama, is one of the most intriguing prospects in this year’s NFL draft class. He has the speed and aggression to be a dominant force at the middle linebacker position, but he has to clean up his character and attitude in order to become a truly great player. Most mock drafts by the NFL scouting gurus have Foster going somewhere in the top ten. After his latest incident, he might be sliding down some draft boards. Our own Sean Selby had Foster falling to the Eagles at 14.

Foster didn’t really show up as part of one of college football’s greatest defenses until his junior year in college. His senior year was when he began to appear on scouts’ radars. He wracked up over 100 tackles and won the Butkus award for being the nation’s best linebacker.

*the following stats come from www.sports-reference.com

2014: 9 games, 23 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 sacks

2015: 15 games, 73 tackles, 8.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 sacks

2016: 15 games, 115 tackles, 13.0 tackles for loss, 5.0 sacks

One of the best things that Foster brings to the table is his aggression and alpha mentality. When combined with his aggressive tackling, Foster packages a fierce punch in the middle linebacker position. Foster can shoot the gap and his hits are like getting hit by a bullet getting shot out of a gun.

In addition to his mentality and tackling ability, the linebacker also has athleticism that allows him to play from sideline to sideline, something that is important for a linebacker in today’s NFL. Also, Foster can be a good cover linebacker, meaning that he has all of the necessary skills to make a great defensive force.

However, Foster has some weaknesses to his game that can possibly limit his ability to become a great linebacker. He lacks instinct, and too often he gets caught relying on his aggressiveness instead of using his instinct to get a better read on the play. Also, Foster has poor tackling technique at times, and he has had some injury issues (stinger/neck injuries) early in his career.

Also, earlier last week a report came out that Foster had failed a drug test due to a diluted sample. The news, reported by Ian Rapoport, negatively affected his draft stock, even though Foster claims to have been sick and was drinking a lot of water (something that could possibly dilute a drug test). Regardless, Foster’s draft stock took a small hit and that is what might cause him to fall to where teams like the Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles sit in the first round of the draft.

The Arizona Cardinals, sitting at pick 13, are in need of a linebacker with the talents of Reuben Foster. Foster would immediately provide a positive impact on that defense, and the Cardinals would be wise to consider drafting Foster if he were to fall to them.

The Philadelphia Eagles, at pick 14, would be faced with an interesting decision to make if Foster is still there at their pick. The Eagles, a team that has many needs, will certainly have to consider taking Foster if he is still there at pick 14 due to his playmaking ability at the middle linebacker position. If the Eagles do decide to jump on the opportunity, it would most likely mean that current middle linebacker Jordan Hicks would move to the outside, something that he said he is willing to do (and some say it would actually improve Hicks’ game by moving to the outside linebacker position).

However, the Alabama standout still could get drafted inside of the top ten picks of the first round, there are always a lot of teams that could use an explosive, aggressive middle linebacker. One team that could potentially draft Foster is the Cincinnati Bengals, who currently hold the ninth pick of the first round. Foster fits their 4-3 defensive system, and current middle linebacker Rey Maualuga is getting close to the point of retirement. The Bengals defense would definitely improve with the drafting of Foster.

Overall, Foster is one of the top prospects in this year’s NFL draft and, most likely, he won’t fall out of the top ten. Foster possesses elite playmaking ability at the middle linebacker position, and he has the aggressiveness to also be a great hit-and-run type tackler in the NFL. However, his failing of a drug test that occurred last week might negatively impact his draft stock, allowing him to fall into the teens of the first round of the NFL draft.

Draft projection: Top 15 picks of the first round

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