We’ve already profiled a couple of linebackers so far this offseason in Lawrence Wilson (UConn) and Akeem Ayers (UCLA). Today we’ll take a closer look at another: Mason Foster out of Washington.

Foster is a player that has turned a few heads the past couple of seasons in the Huskies defense, yet he wasn’t garnering the national attention that is deserving of the way he plays the game. As the Draft approaches, though, more people are starting to take notice. I’d say it’s about time. Initially most teams graded Foster as a third or fourth-round pick. Since the season has ended, Foster has done enough to solidify a spot in everybody’s top 100, and some scouts are hailing Foster as one of, if not the most, consistent play-making linebackers in the whole draft.

Scouting reports after the jump.


Mason Foster
Senior, LB
Washington
6-2, 242

First, from National Football Post:

Possesses good overall girth for the position and exhibits some natural pop as a tackler on contact. Does a nice job wrapping up and bringing his legs through the ball carrier and seems to have improved his overall motor as a senior leader in 2010. Possesses average athletic ability and straight-line in pursuit, but has improved his overall instincts as a senior. Does a much better job reading his run keys, locating the football and making his way toward the play. Exhibits some lateral quickness as well, is more of a run around guy who can slip blocks and close on the football. Isn’t overly physical at the point of attack when run at, but uses his hands well to slip blocks through the play, find the football and break down on the ball carrier.

Is a bit limited in his back-pedal and doesn’t get much depth in his drop. However, possesses good body control in coverage and for a bigger backer possesses good fluidity in and out of his breaks. Looks clean when asked to redirect, isn’t overly explosive, but does a nice job maintaining balance and getting after the football. Exhibits good ball skills and has a good feel in zone, reading the quarterback’s eyes and getting his hands on footballs thrown. Always seems to put himself around the football.

Impression: A guy who has just really worn on me as the year went on. Possesses a nice frame, uses his hands well to slip blocks, finds and tackles the football well and exhibits above-average fluidity in coverage. Isn’t a dynamic athlete, but good enough to become a very solid starting linebacker in the NFL.

Excerpts from a great report at Draft Breakdown:

Summary
Foster is a player that might not have been on the radar of many before the 2010 season, but after a great senior campaign and solid Senior Bowl performance, he is rapidly climbing up many draft boards. The versatile linebacker played and excelled at all three 4-3 linebacker positions in his career at Washington, but is best suited to be the weakside backer in a 4-3 scheme in the NFL.

Run Stopping
Foster is the type of player that you will find is always around the ball in the running game, as evidence by his 12.58 tackles per game, good for second in the nation.

Coverage
Foster is good in coverage when asked to defend running backs or tight ends, but lacks the speed to effectively cover a slot receiver in space. This past season…he generally covered less and was asked to rush the passer more often.

Pass Rushing
A relatively new piece to his game, Foster piled up a career-high 6.5 sacks in his senior season. For the most part his push rushing success came from blitz packages and broken plays. Foster is not a natural pass rusher and doesn’t find success blitzing off the edge that often. His ability is to read a play and blitz up the middle in zone packages where his great instincts are allowed to take over.

Tackling
One of the best aspects of Foster’s game is his tackling ability. He is a form tackler who absolutely loves to hit. He is tough and aggressive when it comes to tackling and can be vicious at times. He ended his career at Washington with eight forced fumbles, including six his junior season which was good for third in the nation. He understands leverage, does not miss many tackles and flows to the ball so well that he always seems involved in the play…He is an absolute tackling machine.

Instincts
Along with tackling, instincts are the other part of Foster’s game that is most impressive. He will not wow you with physical attributes like body-type, size and speed. He will not wow you with athleticism. What he does is make plays. He understands football and has an innate ability to read and react to what’s happening around him that can’t really be taught.

Durability
Foster never missed a game in his college career, and this while playing a violent position.

Character
By all accounts Foster is a person of high character who plays with a chip on his shoulder. He comes from a tight-knit family and has been spoken about in glowing terms by coach Steve Sarkisian and high school coach Al Avila. He was only a 2-star recruit coming out of high school and Washington was the only Pac-10 school that recruited him. He admits to playing with that chip on his shoulder and using it his advantage.

Toughness
You can’t question the toughness of a kid who never missed a college game all while playing a position that requires the physical demands that the linebacker position does. He is a tough player who loves to hit and it shows on film.

Potential
Foster has all the ability and work ethic to become a solid starter in the NFL. While he doesn’t flash All-Pro type potential, he should be a contributor from day one. If put in the right position he can be a player that hovers around 100 tackles in the league year-in and year-out.

Foster is an average athlete, but he makes up for it by being a damn good football player. As a senior Foster totaled 163 tackles (106 solo). He played all three linebacker positions in college, is a natural fit on the weak side, and impressed at his least comfortable position (strong side) during the Senior bowl.