ESPN’s NFL Draft expert Mel Kiper, Jr. is a big believer in Reuben Foster. So much so that Kiper thinks thinks the Alabama linebacker will be drafted even higher in the 2017 NFL Draft than his teammate, linebacker Reggie Ragland, will be this April.
In a media conference call on Monday, Kiper said that Foster is faster and more athletic than Ragland, who he still projects to be a first-round pick.
“Reuben Foster gets from Point A to Point B faster (than Ragland) when I watch them,” Kiper said via Duane Rankin of the Montgomery Advertiser. “When I look at comparison, I don’t think (Ragland) is as fast or as athletic as Foster. I think Foster, next year, will be a better prospect than Ragland is this year.”
Ragland earned SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2015 and was projected to be selected by the New York Jets with the No. 20 pick in Kiper’s latest mock draft. According to Kiper, Foster is a better linebacker prospect than Ragland due in part to the evolution of football.
“In the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, he would been a top-10 pick guaranteed, but coverage ability is going to be something,” Kiper said. “He was 259 [pounds] at the Senior Bowl. You’d like to see that weight down a bit. How effective will he be in coverage in the NFL? We know can he can get after the quarterback, you can move him around a little bit. He’s got some versatility there, but how he plays moving backward, not forward, is the concern for Reggie Ragland.”
Foster is entering his senior season at Alabama in 2016 and recorded two sacks with eight tackles for loss as a junior.