Impact playmakers at inside linebacker are hard to come by, but the 49ers think they’ve found one in former Alabama standout Reuben Foster, trading up to select him with the 31st pick in the 2017 NFL draft.
The former five-star recruit’s stock surged with a stellar 2016, highlighted by his leadership on a juggernaut Crimson Tide defense that ranked first against the run, in total yardage, and scoring.
A diluted sample at the NFL Combine and unrelated dismissal from the event, however, make the selection of Foster a gutsy move. The linebacker is one of the more talented players in this year’s draft class, but his list of concerns has grown over the past couple of months.
Unlike Fournette and Cook, McCaffrey isn’t built like a typical workhorse running back. At 5’11, 202 pounds, he isn’t a small back, but he has a slighter frame than most.
His 2016 stats were hurt a bit by an undisclosed injury that cost him one game and a decision to skip the final bowl game of his collegiate career. McCaffrey’s choice to pass on playing in the Sun Bowl raised eyebrows, but Fournette made the same kind of decision, and it’s unlikely that NFL teams took it into consideration much.
The two games McCaffrey missed in 2016 were the only two he missed in his collegiate career, and he proved durable at Stanford where he often had more than 30 touches per game.
But the other concerns about his less-than-ideal size are his Cheap Youth Basketball Jerseys ability as a pass blocker and his capability of running through arm tackles the way he managed to do at Stanford. If McCaffrey proves unsatisfactory at doing either, he could be relegated to a change-of-pace role, which is hard to justify spending a first-round pick on.