By Austin Stanley, A to Z Sports We continue our Titans Draft Profiles, as we get closer and closer to the NFL Draft. The focus will be players the Tennessee Titans could possibly take in the first round with either of their two picks (5th or 18th overall). Knowing Jon Robinson’s history, the probability of a trade is always looming but Tennessee has some key needs that they will address this offseason to build on the 9-7 season in 2016.
LB Rueben Foster, Alabama
Inside linebacker is far from the Titans’ biggest needs this offseason, but it’s still a need. Starters Avery Williamson and Wesley Woodyard have played well the last two seasons, however depth is an issue. Reserves Sean Spence and Nate Palmer both have expiring contracts, and the two starters each have just one year left. As Woodyard enters his 30’s, looking to the future might be a good idea. Foster is the 2016 Dick Butkus Award winner, given to the nation’s top linebacker. Here are three strengths of his game:
Sideline to Sideline Speed
Rueben Foster is a tackling machine. He led the Alabama defense with 115 of them this past season. Jon Robinson loves production. Part of what makes him so productive is the fact that he can make a tackle anywhere on the field with his top notch speed for a linebacker. via GIPHY The Titans haven’t really had a premiere sideline to sideline type player since Keith Bulluck. The scary part is, Foster has gotten faster since dropping 15 pounds this past offseason at Alabama. When he carried 240 pounds of weight, he ran a speedy 4.62 40-yard-dash… He’s expected to smoke that time at the NFL Combine this year.
— BamaVine (@BamaVine) September 4, 2016
Pass Coverage Ability
Let’s face it, as productive as Williamson and Woodyard were for the Titans this past season, they came up short when needing to guard opposing tight ends. The Titans defense gave up 79 yards to the tight end per game in five of their seven losses. Improving their ability to cover tight ends, and the middle of the field in general, will take this defense to the next level. While Foster didn’t have any interceptions this past fall at Bama, that doesn’t mean he can’t get out in coverage. This play, he drops back and covers Christian Kirk from Texas A&M. Kirk is considered one of the most dynamic playmakers in the SEC. via GIPHY
Fearless Hitting Ability
Defenses need a tone setter. When there is one player who offensive ball carriers know will knock the snot out of them, there is some level of hesitancy and awareness of where that guy is. Rueben Foster would be that guy for the Tennessee Titans. There is no question about his love for the big hit. Now, he does have to be careful of the helmet-to-helmet penalty. Playing at Alabama, he was able to avoid the “targeting rule” whether it should have been called or not. Foster, also, delivered many of these hits on special teams covering punts and kicks. He didn’t care who the return man was, even if it was LSU running back Leonard Fournette. via GIPHY via GIPHY
3 Quick Negatives on Rueben Foster as it relates to the Titans
- Does his lack of size stand up in the NFL? He only weighs 225 pounds, because Nick Saban wanted more speed to deal with up-tempo college offenses. That worked, at Bama. Would he need to gain some of that weight back to hold up in the NFL?
- Can you draft Foster at No. 5 overall? Picking him there would be a lot of investment into a position that isn’t one of the top two team needs. We all know Jon Robinson loves a good trade. Foster could be in play if he moves back a few spots towards the 8-12 range.
- Is he a product of the Alabama defensive system? Bama’s defense is loaded with playmakers at all levels. How much did the presence of Jonathan Allen, Tim Williams, Ryan Anderson, Ronnie Harrison, Minkah Fitzpatrick, etc. allow Foster to run free to make plays? This is a hilarious reaction by Foster when told an exact stat about how incredible his defense was this past season.
— Alex Byington (@abyingtonTD) December 3, 2016
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