Linebacker Mason Foster out of Washington is a tackling machine averaging 12.6 per game and second in nation). His instincts and athleticism make him a natural choice for the Jaguars if they have high hopes for redefining the defense in 2011.
The 6-foot-2, 248-pound Foster was a menace in the middle for the Huskies, yet it was not until his 12-tackle, two-sack effort in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego that Foster’s name began to creep up on draft depth charts.
With black and teal starters Kirk Morrison and Justin Durant, set to be free agents, the Jaguars will look for linebackers in the draft and free agency to pair with outside linebacker Daryl Smith.
The Jaguars, who have the 16th pick in the first round Thursday, need an upgrade. The defense that ranked 28th in the NFL last season (371.8 yards a game) and managed the second-fewest sacks (26). The Jaguars managed six sacks in the final six games.
Foster led the Huskies with 343 total tackles in his career and 163 in his senior year alone. Has great range and fluidity on the field and very good in pass coverage, which the Jaguars sorely need. Foster is also a good blitzer where he made 14 tackles for a loss (44 career) and 6.5 sacks (12.5 career).
Club owner Wayne Weaver stripped head coach Jack Del Rio’s of his role as defensive coordinator. Del Rio, in his ninth season, knows defense is where the Jaguars have to improve to be able win the AFC South.
“We understand that we have some issues we need to address and we’re working hard to do that and I think it will take a blend of draft, of free agency and then working the guys that we have and making those that we have that are going to return better,” Del Rio said. “So there’s a lot of work that needs to go into it, but we’re committed to getting that done.
“We’re accustomed to really playing good defense here and we absolutely must get that back. That’s one of the driving themes of this offseason.”
Foster met with the Jaguars at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., and the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. He also had an impressive “Pro Day” at Huskies’ Stadium last month.
Foster appeared to help himself with a 4.67 time in the 40.
Asked if he was happy about it, he said “Yeah, definitely. I wanted to run in the 4.6’s because at the Combine they had me everywhere from 4.6 to 4.7 so I wanted to reassure and run a 4.6 out there and I did that so I’m happy with that.”
At Washington, he twice led the Pac-10 in tackles and played all three-linebacker positions. Foster is one of the more prominent prospects in this year’s crop of linebackers.The Raiders and Lions have also showed interest.
Foster played QB in high school well enough to lead Seaside High to a California state championship. He’s not making any predictions, but is confident he can play in the NFL.
“I try to not look at that at all and just come out here and do my best, train hard every day and just know in my heart that I am working as hard as anybody in the country and hopefully hear my name called on April 28.”
Jacksonville lost its final three games and missed the playoffs for the ninth time in the last 11 years.
For more about the 2011 NFL Draft, be sure to check out the hornface.com NFL Mock Draft.