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May 12, 2011 @ 12:27 pm
Current Rating: 4.33 Stars/3 Votes

2011 Post-Draft Issue

2011 Draft Class Profile: LB Foster

WRITTEN_BY Scott Reynolds Scott Reynolds
Scott Reynolds


The Pewter Report staff offers up its insights on Tampa Bay’s third-round draft pick, linebacker Mason Foster, and has the analysis of Dennis Hickey, the Buccaneers director of college scouting, in this 2011 Draft Class Profile.

6-1, 245

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers fortified their linebacking corps with the selection of Washington linebacker Mason Foster in the third round. The Huskies standout was a tackling machine during his collegiate career, posting 378 stops, 38.5 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, 11 pass breakups, eight forced fumbles, four interceptions, one blocked kick and scoring one defensive touchdown. As a senior, he was second in the nation with 163 tackles, and also produced 14 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, three passes defensed and two forced fumbles. Foster was eighth in Washington history in tackles.

Foster has played all three linebacker positions for Washington and has the versatility to play all three spots for the Buccaneers due to his size, speed, toughness and instincts. Tampa Bay has not decided where to play him during his rookie season, but he could wind up replacing Barrett Ruud, who will be an unrestricted free agent, at middle linebacker in 2011.

A Huskies team captain, Foster’s stock went on the rise after an excellent week of practice at the Senior Bowl. At 6-foot-1, 245 pounds Foster ran the 40-yard dash in 4.67 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine. Foster is a tough run defender that has the instincts to be around the football in the passing game, too.
“I feel good at any inside linebacker positions. Weakside is the position I led the Pac-10 in for two years, my sophomore and senior year. Playing Sam is something I played my junior year and had a successful year. So I feel like any position they put me in I’m willing to play and help the team win no matter what it takes. I haven’t heard where I’m going to play. For the most part I’ve played all three in college. I’m excited to get the opportunity to play here. The Buccaneers are a great program. I’m looking forward to it. I can’t wait.”

12/30/10 – Nebraska – 12 tackles, 3 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 PBU
10/10/09 – Arizona – 11 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 INT for a TD, 1 PBU
12/4/10 – at Washington State – 14 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks
9/11/10 – Syracuse – 10 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack, 1 FF
11/07/09 – at UCLA – 6 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 sack, 1 FF

It has yet to be determined which linebacker spot Foster will be playing as a rookie, but he has the talent, size, instincts and physicality to start in the NFL in his first year. Foster also has the skill set to be a huge factor on special teams if he does not win a starting job immediately. Many a Tampa Bay linebacker has effectively used standing out on special teams as a stepping stone to winning a starting linebacker spot over the years, notably Shelton Quarles, Barrett Ruud, Geno Hayes and Quincy Black.

Tampa Bay’s linebackers are in a state of disarray right now with Ruud, Black, the team’s starting strongside linebacker, and reserves Adam Hayward and Niko Koutouvides all slated for free agency. In addition to Foster, the other players that are under contract and will factor into the 2011 linebacking corps and compete in training camp are Hayes, the starting weakside linebacker, Tyrone McKenzie, Dekoda Watson and practice squad players Simoni Lawrence and J.D. Folsom. The acquisition of Foster does make either Ruud or Black expendable in free agency as the Washington product could step in as a starter at either position.

Scott Reynolds’ Insights
“I absolutely love the Bucs’ selection of Mason Foster. I had the chance to interview Foster after one of the Senior Bowl practices for about 15 minutes and came away thoroughly impressed. The guy just loves football. He lives it and breathes it. You can tell just by spending a few minutes with him. He’s also a team-oriented player that really has no preference where he plays on defense as long as he gets to contribute. I didn’t know if the Buccaneers loved Foster as much as I did, but I’m going to be excited to cover this guy’s career in Tampa Bay and would be shocked if doesn’t start as a rookie and emerge as a star in pewter and red.”

“If you want to see Foster at his best, check out his one-man-gang performance against Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl. He does a great job of shedding blocks, which I believe is a real weakness of Tampa Bay’s current linebacking corps. After watching this game live I was sold on him as a prospect for the Buccaneers. I hope for Tampa Bay’s sake that they do stick Foster in at middle linebacker and let Ruud leave in free agency. Let McKenzie compete with Foster and the loser of that battle can compete with Hayes for the weakside spot where an upgrade in toughness is also needed. I’d like to see Watson have some competition on the strongside, but I think he can really play and he’s bigger than either Hayes or Ruud. While inexperienced, a starting linebacking corps of McKenzie, Foster and Watson would be a bigger, more physical group, which is what Tampa Bay needs if it wants to be a better run-stuffing defense.”

Charlie Campbell’s Insights
“Landing Foster in the third round was a definite steal for Tampa Bay. He really should have been drafted at least a round earlier. In my opinion, Foster’s stock was hurt playing for Washington, a program that is on the rise but was one of the worst in the PAC-10 when Foster was breaking into the lineup. Because of that, I think teams didn’t realize how consistent and complete a player that Foster is. The Buccaneers defense will definitely be upgraded with Foster. He is extremely instinctive and is always around the ball.”

“I definitely felt that Foster was the best linebacker at the Senior Bowl, and watching him in practice and the in the game, I think his best fit as professional would be as a Will linebacker. Foster would be an average-sized middle linebacker, but as a Will he would be bigger linebacker more similar to the Bears’ Lance Briggs. I think Foster could be a Briggs-like defender in Raheem Morris’ defense. Keeping Foster at outside linebacker would help keep blockers off of him and allow him to use his instincts to get in position to make the tackle. At the NFL level, I think what Foster will need to work on the most is his pass defense. Foster will be a good fit for linebackers coach Joe Baker, a former defensive backs coach, who can help him with his footwork, avoiding false steps, and his dropping in pass coverage. Going against Josh Freeman, Kellen Winslow, and the rest of the Bucs offense in seven-on-sevens will be valuable preparation for Foster to the NFL passing game.”

Bucs director of college scouting Dennis Hickey on Foster:
“Obviously, with the draft taking place before free agency and the current situation with the number of our lineabackers that contribute and have been good players for us being unrestricted free agents, the main thing about him was we liked the linebacker. We feel like he can play in multiple spots. We feel like he fits the criteria of being a football player, a guy that brings a toughness, a physical aspect and that makes plays with good instincts. He fit all the criteria and as with a lot of things. A lot of things are going to be played out over the next few months.”

Hickey on Foster’s production at Washington:
“He’s a productive player. You put on the tape, whether it is the Senior Bowl, the Senior Bowl practices, the games, and he made plays. You go back to 2009 he had three interceptions, I think six or seven forced fumbles, a ton of tackles. He’s a productive player and instinctive player. As with the previous guys (defensive ends Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers) those are the kind of guys that you want to add to our defense as we continue to build our defense.”

Bucs general manager Mark Dominik where Foster fits into the Bucs defense:
“I think the great thing about Mason Foster is the fact that he is versatile. We see he can play the outside, he can play Will, he can play the Sam – he can play any one of them. We have confidence because of his mental aptitude to be able to handle any one of those positions. Right now I would classify him just as a linebacker until we get things more clarified in terms of rules and what the regulations are, but right now we are just happy to add this linebacker to this football team.”

Bucs head coach Raheem Morris on what intrigued him about Foster the most:
“The thing that intrigued me the most and that was most exciting to me, was the first day I laid my eyes on Mason Foster and really got a chance to study him was at the Senior Bowl, and I watched him practice. If you noticed in practice he just hit everybody, he hit everything that moved; he was full-go, all day. It looked like he loved football, and then you got a chance to meet him, and you found out how much he loved football. Then you got a chance to really study his tape, and you can see how much he loves football, his hand usage, his ability to bring people down, his ability to rush off the edge, his ability to be around the ball, causing fumbles, interceptions. Awareness, instincts, all those things you talk about when you talk about great linebackers, he had all those qualities and all those attributes, and that was something that we coveted highly.”
Last modified on Wednesday, 18 May 2011 09:19

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Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds

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  • avatar

    I wasn't overly impressed by the highlight reel. I'm not much on watching college ball so can't really say if the guy is good. What I saw was hesitation and not as aggressive as everyone says he is. He seemed to get lost in traffic.I was watching the Rays losing to the Horioles at the same time.So I might have missed some good things.
  • avatar

    This guy sounds like a machine! Even though I think Ruud doesn't deserve the criticism that he gets b/c it is a team game and the Bucs D-line has not been that great leaving their LB's having to make tackles on RB's going balls out, I think it is time for Ruud to move on. Put Foster at mike, re-sign Black and put at Sam to compete with Watson, and put McKenzie at will. Herzlich is still available I think he would be a steal as well once he gets his full strength back and can develope behind these starters in the meantime. Lets get this lockout lifted!! GO BUCS
  • avatar

    Love this guy
  • avatar

    There is a real penchant with the Bucs that every player selected on D has to have a big motor and lots of hustle to get to the ball. Even if they aren't the fastest players on the board, they are always trying to get in position to make a play. I love that part of the Bucs strategy.
  • avatar

    Now this is a good thought out article by PR. I enjoyed it. I hoping the same as everyone else that he is better than the LB's that we have right now. go Bucs!
  • avatar

    love the pick and the article. but I gotta say - I wasn't overly impressed by that particular highlight reel either
  • avatar

    I don't care if the first half of the season is rough because of growing pains. I would love to see McKenzie/Foster/Watson as our starters with Hayward and Hayes as back ups. Sign Mario Harvey on day one of free agency and we are golden.
  • avatar

    With Bowers and Clayborn starting and McCoy/Price in the middle, our front seven would be ridiculously young...but I don't care. Throw them all in the fire and let them learn now. I'm sure they will struggle for a bit, but by the end of the season we could be great. We would at least know what we need to do early in next year's draft. If we stay with Hayes and Black or Ruud and these guys spend the year on the bench, then we won't know what we have at linebacker next off seaon.
  • avatar

    Scott it's a waste of time to have Foster compete with McKenzie for MLB.The Bucs got Foster to be the next Brooks at will. The bucs want to get bigger at linebacker so you get rid of your smallest one, that would be Hayes. Besides without OTA's, Foster has no chance to learn the play calling duty's you need to play mike.
  • avatar

    I see now they got mason in Rd-3. He may be better than Houston from Georgia. Now lets see if Tampa Bay Has hit paydirt for this year selections. GO Bucs
  • avatar

    From what I have read about this guy I am really looking forward to seeing him play... But I have to say that was a weak *censored* highlight real... I know you can't make big plays and big hits every down so I'm not questioning his skill, just saying don't call it a highlight real when it was actually just a recount of all his plays in that one game... If you guys wanna show off his skills put a real highlight real in there please... In any case, I think he will be a big solid guy to get our new LB corp started off on the right foot... GO BUCS!!!
  • avatar

    I would start him at SLB and look to use my first 2 picks on a WLB and MLB next year, but that's just me. I think his ability to shed blocks, stuff the run an blitz would make him a better fit at SLB. My second option would be WLB. Another reason I would say SLB over WLB is I prefer my WLB's to be faster (maybe about a 4.55 in the 40) and better defending the pass. MLB would be my last option but I'm he doesn't seem to be as comfortable with it and I don't know his experience calling the defensive adjustments.
  • avatar

    He look like a good run Linebacker but I cannot see this guy dropping back into coverage. Maybe Bucs move away from cover 2 ? He looked like he was close to ball on almost every play, but I saw a few plays where he looked overwhelmed.
  • avatar

    I have been caught up in the hype and really excited about this guy but after watching that "highlight" reel, I'm unimpressed. He plays heavy and flat footed. Seems to over pursue and not very accurate at striking. He looks strong but plays very stiff. Looked slow to recognize too. I don't know, you have to be worth something with all those tackles on a team that looks to be super aggressive on play calls. That reel just showed a lot of weakness as far as I could see.
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