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May 12, 2011 @ 1:02 pm
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2011 Post-Draft Issue

Foster May Be Bucs’ Best Draft Pick In 2011

WRITTEN_BY Scott Reynolds Scott Reynolds
Scott Reynolds

Scott
Reynolds

Publisher
As bad as Tampa Bay needed to improve the talent and pass-rushing ability of the defensive end position in the 2011 NFL Draft, linebacker Mason Foster, who was drafted in the third round, may be the team’s best pick.
As excited as Tampa Bay fans were over the selection of not just one – but two defensive ends – with the team’s first draft selections in 2011, the best pick of the Buccaneers’ most recent draft may have come in the third round with Washington linebacker Mason Foster. If you aren’t excited about Foster yet, get ready to do so.

Playing on the West Coast in the Pac 10 Conference, Bucs fans may have as much familiarity with Foster as they had when quarterback Josh Freeman was first selected out of Kansas State University. Both Washington and K-State are schools that are rarely televised in the Tampa Bay television market, which features more geographically closer conferences, such as the Southeastern Conference, the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Big East Conference.

The Huskies standout was the second-leading tackler in the nation last year with 163 stops, 14 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, three passes defensed, two forced fumbles and one blocked kick. During his Washington career, Foster was a stud playmaker, recording 378 tackles, 38.5 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, 11 pass breakups, eight forced fumbles, four interceptions, one blocked kick and one defensive touchdown.

With 4.67 speed in the 40-yard dash and a 6-foot-1, 245-pound frame, Foster has the ability and toughness to play any of the three linebacker spots in Tampa Bay’s 4-3 defense. One of Mason’s strengths is shedding blocks, which then allows him to use his superior instincts to seek and destroy the ballcarrier.

While Bucs head coach Raheem Morris publicly made excuses for his linebacking corps last year and denying the fact that the unit had trouble shedding blocks quickly and making tackles at or near the line of scrimmage, the film doesn’t lie. Even the film study done by the New York Times (http://fifthdown.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/06/2010-bucs-what-the-film-revealed/?smid=tw-nytimes5thdown&seid=auto) reached the conclusion that Tampa Bay’s linebackers needed to be more stout at the point of attack and were a contributing factor in the team ranking 28th in the NFL in run defense last year and dead last in 2009.

“Bad linebacking was an issue this defense couldn’t overcome,” wrote New York Times NFL blogger Andy Benoit. “Outside ’backers Quincy Black and Geno Hayes lacked the strength to consistently hold up in traffic. The same could probably be said about middle linebacker Barrett Ruud, but he had trouble even making it to the traffic. Ruud was routinely tied up with blocks six yards from the line of scrimmage.”

In almost an admission that shedding blocks was an issue for Tampa Bay’s linebacking corps in the past, Bucs general manager Mark Dominik was quick to point out that getting of blocks was one of Foster’s strengths.

“His instincts and his use of hands in terms of being able to get off blocks and shed [intrigued us the most]. He’s very physical,” said Dominik. “He’s a powerful tackler. He has a lot of tackles for losses in his career. He’s had eight forced fumbles. He’s got [four] career interceptions. I think he was second in the country this year in total tackles. He was a captain on their football team. All of those things are what we’re looking for in Tampa Bay Buccaneers and we’re excited about this pick as well.”

Although the Bucs have yet to state where Foster will begin his NFL career, there have been some rumors that he will replace Barrett Ruud as the team’s middle linebacker. That might not be a bad idea.

While Ruud has been the team’s leading tackler every year since he took over the Mike linebacker duties in 2007 when he replaced Shelton Quarles, he has his share of critics that suggest that he makes too many tackles downfield and not enough near the line of scrimmage. Foster would represent a more physical presence at the point of attack, and Morris did say that he had been used as a middle linebacker on occasion at Washington, although he primarily played outside during his collegiate career.

“Well, he’s played inside a little bit,” Morris said. “Legitimately, we can see Mason Foster playing Sam position. You can see him play rush end. You can see him play inside ‘backer. You can see him play the weakside linebacker. He legitimately does it all in college on tape and that was really intriguing to us because of those things, and all those things.

“You know our Redskin package (3-3-5 scheme); we bring guys off the edge. He certainly can add to that, he can certainly be a part of that. We have a Lobo package where we had Dekoda [Watson] and Quincy [Black] out there. We did some different things, and he certainly can be one of those guys that fall into that type of mold.”

When PewterReport.com interviewed Foster at the Senior Bowl, he didn’t rule out his interest in playing middle linebacker, but did express his interest in playing weakside linebacker.

“I feel like Will [linebacker] is where I’m more comfortable, but I’m willing to play whatever,” Foster said. “In my junior year, I played Sam and had a productive year there, and then I moved into Will for my senior year. So either way I feel comfortable, but I feel like running from sideline to sideline is one of my strong points. That’s a good place for the Will to play.”

Despite growing up on the West Coast in Seaside Calif., Foster became a Buccaneers fan because he attended a football camp of former Tampa Bay secondary coach Herman Edwards. Edwards was also from Seaside.

“The biggest Buc player I ever idolized was Derrick Brooks,” said Foster. “He is my favorite player of all time. Just the way he played football and the way he made plays for his team. Herman Edwards from Seaside, California coached for the Buccaneers, so I’ve always had that connection to the Bucs, and it is something I look forward to in going down to Tampa Bay and doing whatever I can to help the team win.”



While Foster wouldn’t mind stepping into Brooks’ shoes at weakside linebacker, that is the one linebacker spot that currently has a starter in Geno Hayes. Not that Hayes, who had a slightly disappointing year in terms of statistical production, couldn’t use some competition, but with two starters in Ruud and Black (in addition to reserves Adam Hayward and Niko Koutouvides) slated for free agency, the Bucs might be pressed to use him at Mike or Sam just given the current vacancies. Foster’s versatility was one of the intriguing aspects about him in the eyes of Morris.

“You talk about the linebackers and the uncertainty of what’s going to happen with free agency and what’s going to happen with our guys,” Morris said. “He’s one of the guys that has the mental makeup to play all three positions.”

Foster met with Morris at the Senior Bowl and was thrilled to be drafted by Tampa Bay. He can’t wait to play for the head coach who will also serve as his defensive coordinator.

“I was actually at home and my roommate and I were watching Sound FX on NFL Network and [the Bucs] seem really exciting,” Foster said. “Raheem seemed like a good guy. He’s a young coach and has a great team and they have a great quarterback, so that seems like it’s an exciting place to be.”

Expect Foster’s play to make Tampa Bay even more exciting.

SR’s INSIDER
•  One of the reasons why the Buccaneers passed on drafting California defensive end Cameron Jordan to select Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn was because the most sacks Jordan had produced in any given season was 5.5, which came during his senior year. Clayborn had an incredibly productive junior season where he produced 11.5 sacks and Tampa Bay felt more comfortable taking a player like the former Hawkeye that had shown the ability to be a double-digit sacker and had some doubts over whether Jordan could ever become that player or if he was destined to be a five- or six-sack per season guy.

• One of the practices that have helped the Buccaneers lure undrafted free agents to Tampa Bay in years past in the post-draft free-for-all, was the recruiting job done by the scouts and coaches during pre-draft visits to One Buc Place. It was customary for the Bucs to use a handful or more of the allotted 30 visits on players that were fringe seventh-round picks/undrafted free agents. The players that went undrafted were recruited to sign with the Bucs should that happen, and the team was relatively successful doing that.

However, given the NFL lockout and the fact that no free agency can occur until a new collective bargaining agreement has been agreed to by the NFL owners and the players union, teams were not allowed to do any overt recruiting during pre-draft visits.

“We were limited by the lockout,” said Bucs director of college scouting Dennis Hickey. “We were limited with what we could actually do. We were told not to recruit or show interest in guys that weren’t going to be drafted. That was not something that we were allowed to do. It was a completely different animal this year.”
Last modified on Friday, 13 May 2011 08:09

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Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds

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COMMENTS

  • avatar


    Wow! PR thank you for the information, but what are you really saying? Are you saying that our 2011 No. 20 spot was so so and our 2nd round pick at 52 spot in 2011 was also a huge risk? Okay so I guess our 1st Rd and 2nd round pick in the 2010 was also a roll of he dice? Scott and Charlie do you guys have any balls at all? So either Morris and Dominick are idiots or very lucky? I would like to think that they can coach and can bring players to the team after round 2? . So here is my big question with Morris and Dominick? Scott what are you really trying to say? I am confused here. Other than Freeman, who else can you say that in Rounds 1 & 2 in three drafts that they have it right? This Article leaves a lot of questions for many of us to discuss.
  • avatar

    Why do so many people have to put words in other people's mouths and try to insinuate things between the lines? He is saying.... ya ready to comprehend this?...... MASON FOSTER can be damn good and is versatile. That is it. Nothing more. Rounds 1 & 2 in 3 drafts? Freeman, K2 in trade, McCoy, Price, Benn, Clayborne, Bowers............... Other than Freeman and K2, the verdict is out on everyone until they play a couple more years... so what exactly are you implying?
  • avatar

    Simply put, my point is that I wouldn't be surprised if Mason Foster doesn't wind up being the best Bucs pick of the draft. No different than the way that Ronde Barber turned out to be the best pick of the 1997 draft over the likes of Reidel Anthony (and even Warrick Dunn), drafted in the first round, and Jerry Wunsch, who was drafted in the second round.
  • avatar


    Watson,at sam,Mckin's in the middle, Mason,who's your favorite player? at will.
  • avatar

    Hey surferdude, I like the line up you have here.
  • avatar


    Horse: I thought we had a pact that you would no longer chide Gerald McCoy. Now here you are inferring that the prior first and second round choices "didn't get it right." Do we really know that yet? To the question "Are Gerald mcCoy, Brian Price, Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers any good?"; you're ready to answer "No" ; when the four combined haven't even played a total of 16 games. You probably went to see the movies Silence of the Lambs, ET, Gone With the Wind and Rudy and after the first five minutes because you quickly decided they weren't going to be any good and left.
  • avatar


    scubog, I didn't. My question to Scott was "so the only guy in this draft that Scott feels will be a big time player is from the 3rd round; rounds 1 & 2 were risks". He also recognized Freeman as a big time player. You know what, some of you guys can read into anyway you want to; I really don't care. My question was not a knock on the players in the 2010 rounds 1 & 2 and also it was not a knock on the players selected in rounds 1 & 2 in the 2011 draft. It was a knock on PR/Scott for not also recognizing the picks I just mentioned above before going to how good Foster is. Quit reading into things that aren't there.
  • avatar


    I agree with Horse for Gone with the Wind; that movie blew.
  • avatar

    I did like the Foster pick a lot. The only problem is that when you watch highlights of Bradford (Washington was one of the games that he actually played more snaps in) he steamrolls Foster a couple times when they meet in the hole. I'm going to chalk it up to how physically strong Bradford is, rather than it being a huge knock to Foster.
  • avatar

    I saw Foster twice and he was a machine. Dare I say he reminded me of Brooks. He was all over the field and pluggin holes. I saw him covering TEs with ease as well.
  • avatar

    He also got smoked in the backfield by Cal's running back a couple times. With that said, I watched Blount run over Ray Lewis last year and you know that doesnt happen often so lets hope that all this means is that we have another really good RB in Bradford. I wouldnt throw Ray Lewis out of here just because he got ran over by Blount.
  • avatar

    Also if you watch Foster's first season as a red shirt freshman when he played against our beloved Josh Freeman, he trucked Freeman over like he was a little kid. Reply
  • avatar


    Surferdudes got it right. Putting Foster at will IMO would best utilize his abilities. Geno Hayes was a major disappointment.
  • avatar


    I don't have much to back up this opinion I'm about to give, but I would rather see Foster at either WLB or SLB. Playing him in the middle...I don't know, it just gives me the willies. Maybe it's because he has said multiple times he doesn't think that's his best position. It may also have to do with the fact that I'm not any more sold on our starters at OLB than I am our MLB. If he's better at OLB put him there and let's hope he's worthy of being our long term starter. We can give McKinzie a fair shot, re-sign Ruud to a 2 year deal and let them duke it out for the starting MLB job.
  • avatar

    Horse- yes, thats exactly what they were saying our first pick is nothing to write home about and the second pick is a huge risk, thats it exactly. Mason Foster was great value for the third round he was tremendously productive and very well could become the best selection in this draft. I agree completely with PR. I do love Bowers but I hope is knee isn't the problem i fear it might be. Lay off McCoy for crying out loud he is in his second yr, remember Sapp wasn't all world either with his first yr with three sacks.
  • avatar


    Scubog, Didn't your mom tell you that you can lead a Horse to water, but you can't make him drink?
  • avatar


    Horse...I get what you're saying but honestly man, what gives you the right to chastise PR for not organizing their articles according to your desires? What rule is there that says you can't write an article about a 3rd round pick without first mentioning the 1st & 2nd rounders? What sort of craziness is that? This article is specifically about Foster...period. They don't first have to give credit to Clayborn, Bowers, Price or Benn in order to make you happy. Sometimes I really think you just want to complain for the sake of complaining. St. Pete is filled with ornery old guys that act just like you do sometimes. Get a grip.
  • avatar


    FLBOYinDALLAS, How about what the article stated. "Foster may to Bucs Best draft pick in 2011". That's what give me the right. That a bold statement to make. I don't need lectures from you. I guess if Scot had said last year that "Williams my be the Bucs best draft pick in 2010, that wouldn't had sounded bold?
  • avatar

    Yes, Mason Foster is a baller - no doubt. What you Buc fans may not know is just how good of a guy Mason Foster is. I watched Mason play on a weekly basis and talked with him more than a few times. I can tell you without reservation; he is a true leader, a person that makes everyone around him want to play harder. He has high standards and carries himself in a professional manner at all times. You're gonna love this kid.
  • avatar


    All I know is that the potential of the new players is exciting. We don't know what we really have yet, but it could turn out to be really special. Bring on the football baby!
  • avatar

    I agree wit h Scott, simply because there are questions about the first two picks. I tend to think if Bowers Knee is ok, He might be the best pick, but if it is not, Foster might have more impact early on.
  • avatar

    He seems like a perfect fit for the Sam Backer. He's more of a thumper than he is a athlete (Brooks). He can also rush the passer, which we send the Sam backer more than the Will. Brooks hardly ever blitzed.
  • avatar

    Horse- Aren't there enough articles out there already on Bowers and Clayborn? I don't mean to put words in PR's mouths, but I think the intent of this article is to shed light on #1) a guy with great potential for us and #2) A player that many Buc fans prolly don't know a whole lot about. I blame the Owners and the NFLPA* for a causing us to OVER-REACT to every article and story that comes out these days. If we had real football going on, we wouldn't be reaching for stories right now.
  • avatar

    Nice article SR. Very well written. I agree Foster 'may be' the best draft pick this year. He probably has as good a shot as anyone because of his college productivity, and the fact that he should start. It's a shame you have to defend yourself from this non-sense. It was a good article and properly written. Thank you.
  • avatar

    I saw his entire career here in Seattle and I was screaming out loud when I saw Tampa pick him. He may get beat every now and then (just like EVERY player does) but he is going to make a huge impact on our team.. that was a fantastic pick. The guy just knows how to play football... very well.
  • avatar


    Horse: You even said in your first comment that you were "confused" about the point Scott was trying to make. He even made a rare cameo appearance to explain it to you. I'll take it a step further. He was making no disparaging comments about McCoy, Clayborn or Bowers by their omission as you seemed to interpret. He merely speculated that Foster may end up being the best player based on his draft position. In short, the expectations aren't as high for a third round choice as they are for a first and second round choice. It just seemed that you were grasping at something encouraging Scott said about Foster that you thought supported your questions about McCoy, Benn, Clayborn and Bowers. Macabee: I won't speculate about my ability to get a Horse to drink. Perhaps if it were the Kool Aid that BF47 used to claim we "casual fans" were drinking if we thought the 2010 team would win more than three games, he might take a nip. Bottoms up BF47!
  • avatar


    I'm just happy that Ruud won't be starting anymore.
  • avatar

    guys guys guys. Horse, JGruden, dudes, he just said that foster MIGHT be the BEST pick. he didnt say that 1 and 2 or 4 and 5 wouldn't pan out. he just said our boy foster will be our crown jewel while 1 and 2 might just be diamond dust. doesn't mean diamond dust isn't appreciated. better than the lumps of coal we have now at DE
  • avatar

    Considering the bust rate of defensive lineman, Foster has a good chance of being the best pick from this draft. He can play Mike, Will or Sam linebacker which will give him more opportunity to get on the field early and often. He also had great college production and could be more prepared to contribute right away. Clayborn and Bowers have a longer learning curve and Bowers knee will probably always be in question.
  • avatar

    ....of course at this point it's anybodies guess as to who will end up being the best pick in this years draft.
  • avatar

    According to JoeBucfan, no Buccaneer has contacted Foster yet. Yikes! Corey or Cody should take the lead, no one else seems interested!
  • avatar


    Let Mckenzie and Foster fight it out for MLB. Anything is better than Ruud.
  • avatar


    Enjoyed reading all of the comments! First, in a pre-draft magazine published by USA Today Sports, Mason Foster was rated as the 5th best outside linebacker. They hadt him as a second round pick after Dontay Moch (Nevada). However, the had a "spotlight" writeup on him by Evan Davis jr., Draft Beakdown. He said among other things: ----------------- "His lightly regarded stock may be due to the 80th-ranked defense that Foster played on or the recent downturn of the Huskies program, but Foster's name has not come up enough in scouting circles as an elite prospect." ..also... "Look for Mason Foster to be the steal of the draft." ------------- Second, as far as Da'Qauan Bowers, the reports I read say that he may have a short career due to injuries. It would be great if he played for 4+ years. He may well be a "second round steal" If he is able to play at high levle even for just a few years.
  • avatar


    On Bowers: I meant to add that it he could be a "second round steal" if he can play at a high level for just a few years.
  • avatar

    Here is an idea, PR, how about if the next two articles you write are titled: 1-Ahmad Black; possibly the best pick in this years draft, and 2- Luke Stocker can be the steal of the draft. That should really generate some great responses. Both could even be true. Stocker could play a lot early and really make an impact, and if there is trouble at the safety position, and Black learns quickly, he too could make a difference on this defense.
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