40: 4.70 (estimated)
Hard worker that plays tough and hard. Attacks the ball at the point of attack. Willing to come up and meet ballcarrier or blocker in the hole. Can shoot gaps and make stops in the backfield. Shows good closing burst and speed in pursuit. Takes good angles in pursuit. Does a nice job wrapping up, and while not a thumper, does a good job dragging down power runners. Has decent hips and can run with backs in the flat and on short crossing routes. Shows nice instincts and flows well to the ball.
Doesn't make a ton of plays in coverage. Needs to get better depth on his drops in coverage, letting receivers run by him down the seam or in the flat on the wheel route. Rarely in position to make a play in coverage and lacks a great feel for zone. Gets sucked up in traffic and needs to do a better job getting off blocks. Does always do a good job setting the edge and getting off blocks in space. A bit undersized and it shows at times as a tackler, as he lacks pop and power to deliver hit as a tackler. Not a significant factor as a blitzer because he has difficulty beating the block by the running back.
Foster is a very productive outside linebacker that was a three-year starter at Washington. He was one of their top playmakers on defense. He had career highs as a senior with 163 tackles, 14 for loss, and 6.5 sacks. HIs other two seasons he combined for 190 tackles, 19.5 for loss, and 3 sacks, and also had 4 picks. Also forced 8 fumbles the past two seasons.
Foster is going to stick in the pros. He'll come in and contribute on special teams and eventually develop into a starter. He's polished enough that he could get by as a starter as a rookie, although he's not going to be as good a playmaker in the pros as he was in college. He's a guy that doesn't make a lot of mistakes, plays hard, and is capable of doing most of what you ask him to do. He'll fit as a WILL linebacker in a 4-3 scheme and make a nice complementary starter down the road. In terms of his potential, he's a player in the Zac Diles talent level, who when you have other playmakers, particularly in the middle, he is a capable starter. But if you want him to be a playmaker himself, he's not going to live up to that. He'll at least stick long-term as a reserve on the outside. I think he can be a decent starter for 2-4 years, but eventually the team is going to want a more dynamic playmaker on the outside that will force him probably into a journeyman's role after his rookie contract. He's going to be the type of starter that will give you an annual statline like 75 tackles, 1 sack, 1 pick, and maybe 1 or 2 forced fumbles or fumble recoveries. If you have a rangy, physical MLB that is making 120 tackles, 3 sacks, 3 picks, etc. that's fine, because he's a smart, hard-worker that won't make a ton of mistakes and not hurt your defense.
Foster could be a decent starter on the outside if the Falcons chose to keep Weatherspoon at SAM linebacker. But he'd only be a situational player, because he's not quite a good enough cover guy to be in their nickel sets. He could be a decent starter, but he's not going to be significantly anymore of an impact playmaker than Nicholas is as the third starter. He's not quite going to be as good as Peterson is on his better days, because he's not as physical and as capable vs. the run as Peterson. Long-term in Atlanta, he'd be a nice backup, but he's not going to be a guy that holds onto a starting job for more than two or so years before the Falcons bring in someone better.
For a 4-3 team looking for a decent starting weakside linebacker, he's a nice fourth round pick.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
Point of Attack: 2.5
Pass Rush: 2.0
Scouting reports of the linebackers in the 2011 Draft.
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