Reuben Foster's NFL Draft-Day Skid Ends as 49ers Trade Up to Draft LB

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistApril 28, 2017

TUSCALOOSA, AL - APRIL 18:  Reuben Foster #10 of the Crimson team reacts to a play during the University of Alabama Crimson Tide A-day spring game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on April 18, 2015 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers traded back into the first round of the 2017 NFL draft to add an impact player, selecting Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster with the 31st overall pick.

San Francisco 49ers @49ers

With the 31st pick in the #NFLDraft, the 49ers select @ferrarifoster! 💪 Welcome to the family! #49ersDraft https://t.co/2zYfvpRAK2

Matt Maiocco @MaioccoNBCS

The #49ers trade back into the first round with Seattle at No. 31 to select Reuben Foster. The 49ers gave up No. 34 and No. 111.

Foster is clearly one of the most talented players in the class. The Butkus Award winner as the top linebacker in the country led the Crimson Tide with 115 tackles this past season, also adding five sacks.

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Reuben Foster is the first linebacker drafted by the 49ers in the 1st round since 7-time Pro Bowler Patrick Willis (11th overall in 2007) https://t.co/LvHj1vNb1r

Jon Ledyard @LedyardNFLDraft

49ers killed it. Solomon and Foster. Foster is the 2nd best player in the draft. Solomon was #5. Two future stars if they stay healthy

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

The defense gets stronger in SF Niners select 'Bama LB Reuben Foster with the No. 31 overall pick https://t.co/kaos4H6TZw

He has outstanding athleticism for his position with the speed necessary to cover sideline to sideline. He also has enough versatility to be successful rushing the passer, dropping into coverage or playing the run. Adding in good instincts to make plays on the ball, he could become a star in the NFL.

ESPN's Todd McShay had high praise for the young player:

Fellow top prospect Jonathan Allen also spoke highly of his teammate:

Jonathan Allen @jonallen93_

I'm going to be honest, Reuben foster is one of the best players I have every played with just sayin

With solid size (6'0", 229 lbs), Foster has a chance to be a starter from day one and make an immediate impact for his new team.

The biggest question marks surrounding the talented linebacker are due to off-field issues.

"He may slide because of background," a scout told Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "He's got all kinds of stuff."

One of the most notable problems came when he was sent home from the NFL Scouting Combine due to an argument with a hospital worker, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. However, he sent letters to all 32 teams explaining the misunderstanding. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported teams came away impressed when he apologized in person.

He also failed his drug test at the combine when his sample was diluted.

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

When I got off the phone with Reuben Foster after telling me about his drug test, he called John Lynch. SF spent 7 hours with him recently

Alabama coach Nick Saban has defended his defensive leader, per Ben Kercheval of CBSSports.com, saying: "He's always been a great team guy and really well-liked by his teammates."

The 49ers are hoping Foster can become a cornerstone of the defense in 2017 and for years to come.

With the team's need at linebacker, he could be an immediate starter and among the top tacklers on the roster in 2017.


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