Dec 16, 2018; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Robert Foster (16) runs the ball in after a catch for a touchdown during the second half against the Detroit Lions at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Foster, WR
There are two factors that make Robert Foster such an intriguing player coming into camp. The thing that most people will remember about Foster is how electric he was in the 2018-his rookie season. Foster had some bad injury luck at Alabama and ended up getting buried on a ridiculous receiver depth chart that included Calvin Ridley, Jerry Jeudy, Cam Sims, DeVonta Smith, and Henry Ruggs III his senior year (2017).
Despite being a 5-star recruit and the 2nd best receiver prospect coming out of high school in 2013, Foster never lived up to that potential at Alabama. For that reason, he went undrafted-but not because he didn’t perform well at the combine. At 6’2, his 4.41 40 yd dash and 6.9 3-cone were both very impressive.
Foster hit the ground running in Buffalo. His 20 yards/reception was the best in the NFL among receivers with at least 30 targets and his EPA/target (.54) came in at 6th-just ahead of Tyreek Hill. Once Buffalo added Cole Beasley and John Brown in 2019, Foster’s targets dried up though and he was never able to duplicate that production.
Highlights from his great rookie campaign (2018)
Advanced stats courtesy of SIS Data Hub Pro
Foster has shown some serious potential as a receiver, but his path to the 53 man roster will hinge on kick and punt coverage ability. Luckily for Foster, his plus-athleticism serves him well in that role and he is an extremely willing tackler. I believe he was brought in to compete for the final receiver spot with Mack Hollins and their reps on punt/kick coverage will be heavily scrutinized in camp.
What to expect from Foster on punt and kick coverage
What to expect
Mack Hollins was a good special teams contributor in 2020, but we saw what happened when he was asked to take on a larger role in the offense. For that reason, I would lean towards Foster making the team over Hollins. He’s shown more potential as a receiver and I would argue he’s just as good in the gunner role. Foster will have an uphill battle, but he has a legit chance to crack the 53 man roster.
Making predictions before the first day of training camp can be tough, but each of these players brings something unique to the table. If Jermaine Eluemunor has truly figured out the position, he could be one of the most impactful free agents added this past off-season. His biggest challenge will be getting reps ahead of players that the Dolphins have drafted over the last two years. Trill Williams has a ton of potential but needs to learn quickly if he wants to stick on the roster. Finally, Robert Foster needs to prove that he wasn’t just a flash in the pan back in 2018. If he can do that and contribute to special teams, he has a good shot at making the 53 man roster.
The more players we’re familiar with on the back end of the roster, the more interesting training camp and the preseason are. Each of these players will be fighting for reps and a roster spot in a few weeks and are worth extra attention.