Why Undrafted?: D.J Foster

By Charlie Campbell, @draftcampbell

Two years ago, we started a series of articles on why certain prospects went undrafted. In this series, I reach out to sources with NFL teams to find out why their organizations passed on drafting a given player, and/or, what were the reasons for other teams to pass on that prospect. We got a lot of positive reader feedback about the series, so we decided to expand in the genre to investigate why some prospects slid in the draft. Last year, we started the “Why the Slide?” series, and this year it is back along with “Why Undrafted?” Feel free to email me requests for “Why the Slide?” and “Why Undrafted?” at [email protected]. I can’t promise to get to all of them, but I will do my best and definitely respond.

In the passing-driven NFL, running backs who can serve as good receivers are always in demand. Over the past two seasons, Arizona State’s D.J. Foster has proven to be that kind of weapon. After a 1,000-yard junior season as a tailback, he was switched to receiver as a senior. While his production declined, Foster showed versatility to play both positions. He earned a Senior Bowl invitation, and many thought he would be selected in the mid-rounds of the 2016 NFL Draft. Thus, it was a surprise when Foster went undrafted.

Sources say the reason that Foster went undrafted was because he has just average speed and size. They say Foster has a chance to make a roster due to his versatility though. Sources from another team said they were giving consideration to Foster on Day 3, but didn’t have a need at the position and liked some of the other players available more. They also said that coaches at Arizona State questioned his role and said if they could have a do-over, they may have played him at safety. Sources don’t feel Foster is very physical as a runner and is a bit of a tweener.

A third team said that Foster was a back who didn’t have a special trait to hang his hat on, and a lot of those backs slip through as free agents. Many still make teams, but tend to be a dime a dozen and aren’t worth drafting late. Sources compared Foster to Bobby Rainey in that regard.

After going undrafted, Foster signed with the New England Patriots, and that was a wise decision. New England didn’t draft a running back and has Dion Lewis coming off a serious season-ending injury. LeGarrette Blount was brought back, but he is a role player and not active in the passing game. The Patriots have had a lot of success with Foster-type players, including Shane Vereen and Julian Edelman. Foster could far exceed expectations if he can earn playing time. Foster went to a good situation and could do well in New England if he is able to make the final 53-man roster.

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