Bolt Beat will do weekly polls on Twitter. This week we focused on Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster and whether or not he should be a target for the Los Angeles Chargers.
The term “elite” is used frequently when it comes to NFL draft prospects.
And as much as that term is thrown around, it’s extremely hard to find elite talent. The draft is a crapshoot, and it’s hard to predict how a player will perform in the NFL, despite scouts, analysts and fans prematurely saying that player is elite before he even steps on the football field.
It’s a guessing game, if you will, and the debate on whether or not there are elite talents in this draft has been an interesting one. Everyone talks about Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett, who will likely be the No. 1 overall pick, but what about the other potential top-10 picks? There’s a ton of potential for players like Jamal Adams, Malik Hooker, Jonathan Allen, Solomon Thomas, Marshon Lattimore, etc., but risk comes with each of them–and that’s why it’s been so hard to find that “right” pick.
And what if all of those guys are gone? In Todd McShay’s three-round mock draft, Garrett, Thomas, Adams, Allen, Lattimore and Hooker were all taken (in that order) right before the Chargers were on the clock. Western Michigan WR Corey Davis went to the Chargers in that scenario, but is that really the right pick? Davis is an intriguing prospect, but he’s not even the clear-cut No. 1 receiver in this draft. Trading back would be best-case scenario, but it’s not easy to pull off a trade.
But then I was thinking: If a receiver, which isn’t a huge position of need for the Bolts, was the choice, why not go after a player who many experts are unanimously high on–and I’m talking about Alabama LB Reuben Foster.
Foster was a stud for the Crimson Tide. The 6-foot, 229-pounder stood out on a team with several standouts, finishing the 2016 season with 115 total tackles (including 13 for loss), five sacks and two pass deflections. Yes, the Chargers have young, quality players at linebacker, including Denzel Perryman, Korey Toomer, Jatavis Brown, Kyle Emanuel and Joshua Perry (with Melvin Ingram/Jerry Attaochu moving to the line to play as the Leo), so it’s not really a need; but the more linebackers (and a potential game-changing one), the better in new DC Gus Bradley’s 4-3 scheme, right? And like the receivers, the linebackers were a bit banged up last season, too.
And here’s where my opening statement comes full circle. Foster has those “elite” qualities, per scouts, and he’d be valued on this defense from Day 1, which is a great sell for going seventh overall. He remains the No. 1 linebacker on Mike Mayock’s latest position rankings. NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein notes that Foster is a “vicious hitter with elite playmaking range.” Pro Football Focus even compared Foster to seven-time Pro Bowler and five-time first-team All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis.
“High praise, but it’s a reflection on Foster’s ability to do everything. He has the top-end athleticism that Willis had, which allows him to play sideline-to-sideline and cover running backs, tight ends and slot receivers, as well as the strength and physicality needed to consistently take on and beat blocks on inside runs.”
Foster is an athletic linebacker who can do it all, and he could be the ultimate playmaker for Bradley, which is why the selection of Foster is more and more appealing.
Instincts really separate Reuben Foster in my opinion. Great speed & power but the guy arrives before plays begin to develop. Crazy FB IQ. pic.twitter.com/NHEBsZBu7B
— Cole Cubelic (@colecubelic) March 31, 2017
With all of this talk of being elite, how would Foster even be available at No. 7? Well, he was sent home from the NFL Scouting Combine after getting into an argument with an employee at the hospital during medical evaluations, which likely caused his stock to drop. He also underwent rotator cuff surgery in February.
With that said, let’s see what the fans think:
Weekly Poll! It's rarely been brought up, but if LB Reuben Foster is on the board, should the Chargers draft him?
— Bolt Beat (@BB_Chargers) April 11, 2017
I understand why fans are opposed to drafting Foster at No. 7 overall because linebacker isn’t a need, but passing up a talent like Foster, especially if the top defensive linemen, edge rushers and safeties are gone, would be regrettable.