Draft Daily: How far will Reuben Foster fall post-combine?
Pro Football Focus’ Draft Daily will hit on a number of NFL Draft-related topics including recent news, scouting reports, PFF draft takes, and much more on a frequent basis.
How far does Reuben Foster fall?
One of the biggest stories to come out of the NFL combine this past weekend was the surprising dismissal of Alabama’s star linebacker Reuben Foster. Foster was ejected from the event after an altercation while waiting in line for his medicals. With some concerns about his health, this only added to the reasons for teams to consider dropping him down draft boards as we head toward the draft. Foster immediately apologized, which will be key to convincing teams that this was a one-time incident, but it remains to be seen what sort of impact it will have. So just how far does Foster fall?
I’ve been on record as saying I think Foster is the best overall player in this draft class. That hasn’t changed for me after this past weekend, but I fully accept that it will possibly have some form of impact for teams in the NFL. I originally said I expected San Francisco at pick No. 2 to be the first team to give him a long look, and while I still think they should, in a draft this talented, it’s entirely understandable if they opted to look past him after this past weekend.
Looking down the rest of the first-round draft board, if there is something of a drop for Foster, I think the Cincinnati Bengals at pick No. 9 are a logical landing spot. Foster, who recorded 68 total defensive stops in 2016, would be a great fit there, and lock down a linebacker spot in the Queen City for years to come.
If Cincinnati were to pass, the New Orleans Saints at pick 11 would be another ideal landing spot. The Saints have needed an upgrade at linebacker for a long time, and with Foster leading all inside linebackers in college with a run-stop percentage of 16.3 percent, he could come in and be an instant upgrade from day one.
Were the Saints to pass, I think Cleveland should give a long look to picking him up at pick 12. The odds are high that the Browns will select Myles Garrett with the top overall pick, and that makes a lot of sense given that he is the best pass-rusher in this draft class, with his recent combine success just highlight how talented a player (and athlete) he is. So why take Foster at 12? Well, if they aren’t in love with a quarterback in this draft class, and if they haven’t drafted one at No. 1 overall I’m going to assume they aren’t, why not come away with the top two players in this draft class?
If he falls any further than pick 12 then he will wind up being an absolute steal for whoever decides to write his name down on their card.
Scouting report for Kansas State DE Jordan Willis
One of the biggest winners of the combine, Kansas State’s standout defensive end Jordan Willis made himself some money this past weekend. He was second in the country with 80 total pressures last year, thanks in no small part to his ability to explode off the line, along with his high motor.
PFF analyst draft takes
Our analysts are hard at work analyzing the 2017 draft class and adding their spin on what they’re seeing. The beauty here is that we’re not always in lockstep with each take, and it shows the unique interpretation each of our analysts can have when watching film and analyzing PFF grades and stats. Here are a few of the more interesting takes of the week:
This was one of the talking points coming away from the combine. There is belief among some that we will see five quarterbacks go in round one of the draft, and that’s just not something I can get behind in the slightest. There are four guys in this class who, despite having their flaws, also have flashed enough in terms of big plays that I can understand why they might go in round one. After Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes, Mitchell Trubisky and DeShone Kizer though, I really don’t see a signal-caller deserving of going in round one in this class. This is a loaded defensive class, particularly on the defensive line and in the defensive backfield, and I think if you want to reach for a guy like Cal’s Davis Webb when there will definitely still be some seriously talented players on the board, it’s a pick that you will live to regret.
PFF “My Guys”
We have a running document where PFF analysts list their favorite players to watch and analyze during draft season. They’re not necessarily the best players in the draft, but players an analyst believes in more than the hype surround the prospect or perhaps his expected draft position.
Here’s my take on one guy who had a fantastic combine to continue a very strong pre-draft process, East Carolina wide receiver Zay Jones:
Jones was our second-highest-graded receiver, behind only Eastern Washington’s Cooper Kupp, in 2016. Part of that comes down to his usage, with Jones seeing a total of 216 passes thrown his way throughout the year, 45 more than any other receiver in the nation. That being said, Jones also made the most of his opportunities, dropping just six of the 164 catchable passes thrown his way, and forcing 24 missed tackles.
He’s a player who a lot of people are starting to give more attention to now, and he really impressed at the combine, causing a lot of people on Twitter to announce that they have to go back and watch him on tape again, because they didn’t expect him to put up some of the numbers that he did. He also had a huge week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, where he not only put on a show in the game itself, but dominated in practice, including this play in one-on-ones where he left Iowa’s Desmond King for dust.
With an offseason as good as he has had, Jones has legitimately given himself the chance to be drafted in the top two rounds of this year’s draft.
PFF Draft Podcast
The latest PFF Draft Podcast is now available, as Steve teams up with Senior Analyst Mike Renner for their usual rambling. Mike brings it with his usual “hot take” of the week, and this one was burning so strong that he had to kick off the show with it. They also discuss players moving up and down the draft board, and review old scouting reports. We are also blessed with Nathan Jahnke’s mind-blowing stat of the week, quickly becoming the most-talked about segment in football podcasting.
Be sure to download and subscribe to the PFF Podcast from your favorite provider.
PFF Draft Pass
PFF Draft Pass has officially launched, and can be accessed by clicking here. Users can now view PFF signature stat breakdowns by position, and will soon have access to expanded scouting profiles with grades and signature stats for each top prospect. In addition, PFF Draft Pass users will have access to the PDF version of the PFF Draft Pass in the coming weeks.
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