Redskins Draft Profile: Alabama ILB Reuben Foster

The NFL draft begins on April 27th in Philadelphia and the Redskins have the No. 17 selection in the first round. This is the seventh in a series of stories analyzing 15 players who could be a good fit for Washington at that position.

Reuben Foster

Inside linebacker

6-foot

229 pounds

Alabama

Raise the red flags. All of them. These are the type of players that keep general managers awake at night. There is no doubting Foster’s ability. He is a top-10 talent in this draft for most evaluators.

But then there are the off-field issues. Why was he sent home from the NFL Combine before he could work out for yelling at a medical technician? Maybe that was the league overreacting. Fine. Why was his urine sample for the Combine drug test found to be diluted?

If Foster falls to 17, the Redskins will have a decision to make: Is this a player they can trust to get the most out of his formidable talent?

How he fits: The draft is all about upgrading the overall talent level of a team and it’s hard to argue Foster doesn’t do that. Will Compton and Mason Foster are nice players and Zach Brown, on a one-year contract, had a breakout season in 2016 with Buffalo as a Pro Bowler.

But Foster is a first-team All-America pick and helped his team to the national title game. Plays with an edge always. Unafraid to target opposing linemen early in games, is a force against the run and has plenty of ability to get out in coverage when needed. He simply looked like a man playing with boys at times even against SEC opponents. Few linebackers can chase the ball sideline to sideline any better. More likely a weakside linebacker at the NFL level rather than a Mike linebacker in the middle of a 3-4 defense.

This would be an instant impact player for the Redskins.

Questions: The off-field questions are a problem. Several NFL executives insist the Combine incident was blown out of proportion. The drug test can’t be explained away as easily. Foster insists he was ill that week and needed an IV and to drink as much water and Gatorade as he could in order to go through the drills. That triggered the “diluted” ruling. He did have surgery to repair a right rotator cuff, too.

One on-field criticism: Can rely too much on his speed and athleticism and is not an instinctive player. That might be nit-picking given Foster’s overall talent level.

What they’re saying: Mike Mayock, NFL Network

“It has to be taken into consideration. I think the shoulder is apparently going to be okay from a re-check perspective. I don’t see him sliding all that far. I think he’s a top 20 pick all day long in any draft. Could he have been a top 10 pick? He still might be a top 10 pick.”

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