The Miami Dolphins immediately believed they got the steal of the draft last year when former Ole Miss offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil fell to them following some last-minute character concerns due to a video posted on social media the night of the draft. The Dolphins got the last laugh, as they got a top-5 talent at No. 13, and Tunsil had a stellar rookie season.
Could the same scenario play out for Miami this year with University of Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster?
The player many regard as the top-rated linebacker in this draft and an expected top-10 or top-12 pick had a bad incident last week at the NFL combine. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports Foster got into a “heated altercation” with a medical worker and was sent home, which brings up red flags less than two months before the draft, especially for a team in the top 10. Foster already has injury questions that may give some teams pause.
Miami proved with Tunsil that it isn't afraid to take chances in the first round for talented prospects. The Dolphins were very confident in their homework on Tunsil and that he simply made a mistake. They were correct, as Tunsil had a focused rookie year and played well in 14 starts at left guard and left tackle.
The Dolphins need linebacker help in the worst way after finishing 30th in total defense and 29th against the run. On the field, Foster would be a terrific fit as an athletic thumper and big hitter at middle or outside linebacker.
With Foster, the team has the flexibility to move Kiko Alonso to outside linebacker and utilize his speed and athleticism there or move Foster outside. Foster would be a huge upgrade over a rotating door of 2016 starters in Jelani Jenkins, Donald Butler and Koa Misi.
Many of the Dolphins’ issues stopping the run happened at the second level once running backs got past the defensive line. Foster is one of the top talents in this draft and would be a very good value at No. 22 if he slides and Miami can look past any medical and character concerns.
It will be interesting to see if and how far Foster drops in the draft after this incident in Indianapolis. Maybe the Dolphins could be fortunate to have another top-10 talent fall to them later in the first round for the second straight year.