2016 NFL Draft: Is Arizona State RB/WR D.J. Foster a Dexter McCluster clone? What will he be at the NFL level? Here’s our thoughts on this interesting study…
Arizona State’s D.J. Foster is one of only five players in NCAA Division 1 history with 2,000 rushing yards and 2,000 receiving yards on his stat sheet.
That’s pretty impressive.
Making the move to wide receiver his senior season, Foster made a name for himself prior to 2015 as a running back who could also catch the ball, not necessarily as just a wide receiver. In fact, 2015 was one of his worst seasons statistically as a collegiate player.
We’re going to dive into Foster a little bit here, and give you a picture of what he can be at the next level…
At A Glance
Wt: 205 pounds
Hometown: Scottsdale, AZ
53 games played, 4,829 all-purpose yards, 32 career touchdowns
Translatable NFL Traits
For a smaller player like Foster, speed and quickness are crucial. He has them, though I am not sure he has that second or third gear to put him among some of the NFL’s elite in terms of deep speed.
That isn’t necessarily going to prevent him from being the best NFL player he can be.
One thing that you notice consistently from Foster on tape is that he knows how to make people miss. When he gets the ball in the open field, he knows he’s not going to run through people at just around 200 pounds, so he finds ways to get around them, and he’s pretty good at it.
His speed and quickness are evident when he is playing the receiver position, as he’s able to get in and out of breaks really well. This skill set would lead me to believe he is best suited to play a slot receiver position at the next level, but there will be options…
If you are a running back that is basically forced to convert to a wide receiver position in your final year of college ball, you obviously have to have pretty good hands.
Foster actually caught more passes as a running back (66) in 2014 than he did in 2015 as a receiver (59). I don’t think he was properly used in his senior season having been sort of pigeon-holed as a receiver and not a dual threat back, but that was Arizona State’s decision and they had to live with it.
Foster’s ability to make plays out of the backfield was something I think really elevated his value as an NFL player, and I think that will be something that NFL coaches will revisit. He doesn’t have the bulk to be an every-down back, but he is good enough to carry the ball 8-10 times a game and get some looks as a receiver as well.
Foster might have been kicking himself for not entering the 2015 NFL Draft after a phenomenal junior season, but I think he learned a lot this past year transitioning to wide receiver and we certainly learned a lot by watching it. He certainly is capable of playing the ‘Dexter McCluster’ role at the NFL level, but I don’t know if you could pin him as either a RB or WR moving forward. He is certainly effective in both roles, and an NFL coaching staff is going to have fun finding ways to get him involved.
That said, is he athletic enough to prioritize in that way? What kind of stock does he have as a prospect? I don’t know that he will receive more than late-round consideration unless NFL teams are blown away by his workouts. The 2015 tape isn’t as electric as the 2014 tape by any means, so teams will be questioning that.
I think this is a solid looking football player, but what is his identity? You don’t have to call him a receiver or a back, because he can do both. He can help you as a runner and a pass catcher, so I think there is value to his game at the NFL level.