The San Francisco 49ers have gotten big production from their rookies this season, and it is fitting that media is giving them some love. The latest comes from ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper.
Kiper put together his latest rookie big board, which breaks down the top 25 rookies through Week 10. He ranked Reuben Foster No. 12 and Solomon Thomas No. 18. In his assessment, he looked at where each was ranked in his last big board, their final ranking on his pre-draft big board, and where they were selected.
Previously ranked: NR | Final Big Board rank: 8 | Where he was drafted: 31
Like Garrett, Foster has played in only four games because of injury, but he has been fantastic, particularly the past two games. He had 24 total tackles against the Cardinals and Giants. Foster was one of my favorite 2017 prospects and my top-ranked inside linebacker. He's the reason the 49ers parted ways with longtime stalwart NaVorro Bowman earlier this season. I though Foster might be picked in the middle of the first round -- I projected him to the Colts at No. 15 in my two-round mock -- but he dropped to No. 31 overall, in part because of some off-field concerns. He has a chance to be one of the steals of the early rounds.
Previously ranked: 13 | Final Big Board rank: 4 | Where he was drafted: 3
He could have surged up this list but has missed the past two games with a knee injury. Thomas has eight tackles for loss.
If Reuben Foster can finish out the season, I would expect to see him in the top ten, and potentially top five. He has two full games under his belt, and he has been arguably the best defensive player on the field in both games. I don’t know if playing eight full games would be enough to net him Defensive Rookie of the Year, but it definitely will get him in the conversation.
It is not surprising that Kiper focused on the notable names. Many of us would argue for guys like Ahkello Witherspoon and Adrian Colbert, among others. Both got their chances to start a little bit later in the first half of the season, and were lower profile coming into the season. If Colbert can get back sooner rather than later, the two of them could end up on some end-of-season rookie lists.