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'Outstanding Shot' Ravens Draft Inside Linebacker Reuben Foster


The Ravens drafted inside linebacker C.J. Mosley in the first round in 2014.

Since then, he's gone to two Pro Bowls and anchored the middle of Baltimore's stout defense.

So could the Ravens go to the well again and draft another Alabama inside linebacker in the first round this year?

Reuben Foster could potentially be there at pick No. 16, and one NFL draft analyst could see him wearing purple and black.

"I think there's an outstanding shot," NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah told The Lounge podcast. "I think Reuben is one of the 10 best players in the draft."

Baltimore has an open starting position at inside linebacker with the sudden and unexpected retirement of Zachary Orr, who led the team in tackles last year before finding out he had a congenital back/spine condition.

The Ravens have a need, but rising 2016 second-round pick Kamalei Correa, veteran Albert McClellan or undrafted linebacker Patrick Onwuasor could fill that void.

So will Baltimore want to use a first-round pick on inside linebacker for the second time in just four years, especially when it has other candidates for the job?

"That's what [the Ravens] do better than everybody else, historically, is they don't get caught up in the need and they're going to take the best player available," Jeremiah said.

"I have to believe that if Reuben Foster got there, he'd be the highest player on their board. I'd be shocked if he wasn't. If he were to slide down that far, I think that slide would end right there."

Foster won the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker last year, and was a finalist for the Bednarik Award,which is given to the nation's top college defender. As a senior, he led the Tide with 115 tackles, including 13 for loss and five sacks.

He's a physical and tenacious hitter who became a top prospect when he lost 20 pounds last summer, which allowed him to show off his sideline-to-sideline speed and athleticism. Foster also has the ability to cover running backs and tight ends in space, proven by his 10 passes defensed in 2015.

CSN's Charley Casserly said Foster compares to Mosley, but could be drafted higher than Mosley was (No. 17) because "he's a little better in coverage."

What could send Foster down some draft boards is he was sent home early from the NFL Scouting Combine after getting into a heated verbal altercation with a hospital worker during medical checks. He reportedly grew impatient waiting around.

If there are issues with Foster's attitude, Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome would certainly be in the know. The Alabama alum is still good friends with Head Coach Nick Saban and a huge fan of the program.

Earlier this month, Newsome said the combine incident did not change where Foster ranked on the Ravens' draft board.

"He went to Alabama, so I think I have the inside [track] on most of that information that comes out of there," Newsome said.

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