The NFL is entering the final quarter of the 2017 season, and San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster is starting to get some love in rookie rankings. Foster was named defensive rookie of the month for November, and his strong performance has him moving quickly up the board on a couple notable rankings.
Pro Football Focus released their rookie rankings through Week 13, and they ranked Foster No. 6. Back in mid-November, their last rookie rankings did not include Foster. At the time, he had a couple games under his belt following return from injury, and they listed him outside of the rankings with the asterisk that if he kept up that two-week pace, he would enter the rankings. A month later, here you go.
Here’s what they had to say about Foster:
Foster sits just outside of the top-5 as he makes his long-anticipated debut in this 17-week long race. The 31st overall pick in this year’s draft ranks fifth among linebackers in terms of overall grade and he cracks the top 15 in both run defense grade (87.8, ranks sixth) and coverage grade (81.5, 13th). After playing in just 64 snaps in the first eight weeks of the season, Foster has been on the field for 99.2 percent of San Francisco’s defensive snaps since and over that four-game stretch he’s finished three games with an overall grade of at least 80.0 and in two of them he finished over 85.0.
The top five in PFF’s rookie rankings include the following
Daniel Jeremiah released his top 25 rookies through Week 13, and he ranked Foster No. 5 after having him outside the rankings previously.
Foster is a one-man wrecking crew for the 49ers' defense. He has incredible range and is a tone-setting tackler.
Ahead of Foster, he has Marshon Lattimore, Alvin Kamara, Deshaun Watson, and Kareem Hunt. It’s interesting to note that Desmond King, who is No. 5 on PFF’s rookie rankings, does not appear in Jeremiah’s top 25.
If Reuben Foster had not missed the first part of the season, he would likely be in the thick of the defensive rookie of the year race. He is unlikely to get past White and Lattimore on this, but a strong final four games could at least get him in the conversation.
Last week, defensive coordinator Robert Saleh talked about some areas where Foster needs to improve. If he can continue to show growth, the sky really is the limit for Foster.
“The consistency. Like all rookies. Continue working his hands in block protection. These linemen get on you faster. They’re much stronger than they were in college. So, you can’t always just dip and rip. You’ve got to use your hands, create extension and get them off you. And, his footwork in the box. But other than that, just play recognition and instincts and all that stuff that comes with it. It’s going to take reps. Shoot, everyone has a little bit to improve on too. He’s going in the right direction, that’s the cool thing.”