Miami Dolphins

Checking The Tape: Would a Reuben Foster fall be another Tunsil-like miracle for Miami?

Previewing who the Dolphins might pick in the 2017 NFL Draft

The Dolphins have a ton of needs, but here's who Adam Beasley thinks the team might pick in this year's draft.
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The Dolphins have a ton of needs, but here's who Adam Beasley thinks the team might pick in this year's draft.

This is the fifth in a series of film breakdowns of players that the Dolphins could draft with the 22nd overall pick Thursday.

Part 1: Haason Reddick.

Part 2: Jordan Willis.

Part 3: Forrest Lamp.

Part 4: Taco Charlton.

You know all that advice agents give their draft-eligible clients this time a year?

Like, “be smart” about all things?

Reuben Foster, a potential top-10 pick, acts as though he never got that message.

His pre-draft tour has been a bit like the S.S. Minnow’s last voyage.

Could Miami ultimately be the Alabama linebacker’s island of refuge?

Well, we know that Adam Gase loves Nick Saban-coached players. The Dolphins drafted Kenyan Drake last year based, at least in part, on Saban’s recommendation.

But Drake didn’t have Foster’s baggage.

Foster blew the biggest job interview of his life. He was sent home from the NFL Scouting Combine after getting into a “heated argument” with a hospital worker, ESPN reported at the time.

Foster wasn’t going to run or jump in Indy anyway, as he was still recovering from rotator cuff surgery. But it was a terrible look.

Then in recent days, that look got worse.

Foster will begin his NFL career in the league’s substance abuse program because his Combine drug test came back diluted — which is considered a failed test. NFL Network broke the story Thursday, one week before the NFL Draft. (Foster blamed the diluted sample on food poisoning.)

That, combined with lingering questions about his health, has some wondering if Foster will fall out of the Top 10 — or even Top 20 altogether.

If so, the Dolphins will be ready. They have a need at linebacker, and Foster is a really good one.

It he somehow does slip to Miami at 22, it’ll be a repeat of 2016, when drug concerns knocked tackle Laremy Tunsil all the way to 13.

“With our philosophy, each player, we look at individually, and so, [director of team security] Drew Brooks does a great job and Stu [Weinstein] doing the background of digging in on players,” Dolphins general manager Chris Grier said recently. “Again, when the Laremy thing came up … [national scout] Matt Winston did a great job of background stuff. So with each player, we’re still doing … We still have information coming in on players right now. We’ll make those decisions early next week on most of those players. For us, background and character is huge. We won’t take any shortcuts doing that.”

Grier continued: “I think dealing with that, you have to look at every case individually. There are some cases where you hear it is domestic violence but the player was the one who called the police and the girl hit him, but because the police were called, it goes on the player as domestic violence. It’s something that we have to look at each case individually before we make a determination.”

The Dolphins didn’t remove “so many guys” from their board based on character in 2016, Adam Gase said, and the Tunsil pick shows they don’t necessarily require a spotless personal history.

So the idea of Foster at 22 needs to be at least considered. Dolphins blogger Max Himmelrich considered it.


Age: 22.

Height: 6 foot.

Weight: 229 pounds.

Arm length: 32 3/8 inches.

Hands: 10 1/4 inches.

40 time: 4.72 seconds.

Film breakdown

Max’s take

Pros: Reueben Foster is enters the NFL with the Alabama pedigree, having manned the middle of Nick Saban's defense. Foster has sideline-to-sideline ability, and is a violent tackler when he meets ball carriers. He also possesses top-notch vision.

Cons: There are concerns about Foster off of the field. He failed a drug test at the Combine and some teams believe that he will struggle learning the terminology of an NFL defense. In addition, Foster is battling a shoulder injury that worries some teams.

Fit for the Dolphins: At the end of the day, linebacker isn't Miami's most pressing need. The team has Lawrence Timmons and Kiko Alonso on relatively high-priced deals, and in a nickel package they'll only need those two LBs on the field. However, if the Dolphins are committed to selecting the best player available, it could end up being Foster. He is probably the best linebacker in this year's class, and could be the NFL's next fearsome presence manning the middle of a defense. While there are some concerns about injury and off-field issues, nobody doubts that Foster can play.

Adam H. Beasley: 305-376-3565, @AdamHBeasley