Will Miami brass ultimately regret passing on coveted linebacker Reuben Foster in this years NFL Draft? Or will newly drafted defensive end Charles Harris live up to the hype?
Will the Miami Dolphins regret passing up on Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster with the 22nd pick of the NFL Draft this year, or were the shoulder concerns warranted?
This years NFL Draft was one of the zaniest in recent memory. Chicago gave up a kings ransom to trade up one spot with the San Francisco 49ers and select North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky, resulting in a wild first round of questionable trades and unexpected falls of top defensive talent. Among those to experience a shocking tumble was former Alabama standout Reuben Foster, a young man many scouting experts believed to be the top middle linebacker in the draft.
Nobody could have predicted that Foster would fall to the late first round, and when it was time for the Miami Dolphins to select at number 22, Foster was surprisingly still available. Fans certainly wanted him. One of Miami’s top needs for this draft was linebacker, and Foster would have possibly filled that slot for the next five to ten years. Instead, the Dolphins selected Missouri defensive end Charles Harris.
So will Miami’s General Manager Chris Grier and head coach Adam Gase eventually regret passing on Foster?
Nobody outside of the Miami coaching staff knows why the Dolphins decided against arguably the best linebacker in this years class. However, it is doubtful that it was attributed to a reported diluted drug sample and medical altercation at this years NFL Combine. Diluted samples can be explained away easily enough, and character concerns, although evident with Foster, wouldn’t have been enough to scare Miami away. Instead, there were rumors that a medical checkup in Indianapolis just before the draft revealed that Foster might require a second surgery on his shoulder.
Nothing strikes fear into NFL teams more than medical concerns, and that was the consensus reasoning for Foster’s free fall. Especially when a medical scare pertains to shoulder issues and a possible second surgery. If the shoulder issue indeed becomes a moot point, and Foster eventually dominates at the linebacker position for the 49ers, who traded up to take him with the second to last pick, this could end up as a wasted opportunity on the Miami Dolphins part.
On the other hand, Missouri star Charles Harris might alleviate those concerns early on. Harris was originally thought to be a second round talent, but his impressive combine showing and pro day started to propel the defensive end into first round mock drafts. Many experts touted Harris as the second best edge rusher after Myles Garrett, who went number one overall to the Cleveland Browns. GM Chris Grier talked in the days leading up to the draft about the prospect of taking a pass rusher, and if Harris pans out as hoped, it will be scary to think about a Dolphins defensive front led by Cameron Wake, Ndamukong Suh, newly signed former Los Angeles Ram William Hayes, and the rookie Harris.
Besides, Miami picked up talented ex-Pittsburgh veteran Lawrence Timmons in free agency to position alongside Kiko Alonso. The Dolphins also drafted Ohio State linebacker Raekwon McMillan in the second round at number 54 overall. McMillan is an every down linebacker who excelled at Ohio State, impressing Miami so much that they passed on Vanderbilt linebacker Zach Cunningham, who was still available and taken three spots later by the Houston Texans.
Hindsight is unfriendly in the NFL. Miami might indeed regret passing up on Reuben Foster in this years draft, but the sting will be less if Charles Harris lives up to the hype. If Foster does indeed become the next Luke Kuechly, then Miami will have let shoulder concerns once again hurt the team. Remember, it was that same reason that Miami passed up on signing quarterback Drew Brees in 2006, instead going with former Minnesota Viking Daunte Culpepper. Every Dolphins fan knows how that scenario played out, so Miami better hope that history doesn’t repeat itself here.
What will the final verdict be? Did Miami miss out by passing on Reuben Foster, or will Charles Harris excel at his position in the coming years and make Dolphins fans forget all about the Crimson Tide linebacker? Only time will tell.