Just 12 months ago, Reuben Foster was viewed as the consensus top linebacker in the 2017 NFL Draft. Aside from a medical-related altercation at the NFL Combine that led to the 2017 Butkus award winner being sent home early, Foster was viewed as a clean prospect off-the-field as the incident was seen as a one-time occurrence that wouldn’t lower his draft stock.
The primary concern facing Foster was his injury history as he was often banged up while playing for the Crimson Tide. When the First-Team All-American fell to the 31st overall pick, concerns over a bad shoulder were cited as the reason.
Like Foster, Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley came into the draft with a major red flag, just for a very different reason. Days before the 2017 NFL Draft, news broke that the defensive back was being investigated by Cleveland Police after a rape allegation was filed involving him earlier in the month.
The report sent shockwaves among an NFL community that had previously viewed Conley as a high character prospect. The allegation resulted in the Ohio State corner sliding down the first round until the Raiders drafted him with the 24th overall pick, coming under enormous scrutiny in doing so.
One year later, the situations both Foster and Conley find themselves in have been reversed. Conley’s case was ultimately dropped with no charges filed, and the first round pick has remained clean off-the-field. Despite never suffering a serious injury at Ohio State, he missed all but one game of his rookie season with the Raiders due to a lingering shin injury.
Foster conversely battled minor ailments in 2017, but was able to start in 10 games for the 49ers, emerging as one of the best young linebackers in the NFL. But while impactful on the gridiron, he struggled to stay out of trouble in the offseason and was arrested twice for possession of marijuana and for an alleged incident of domestic violence.
The Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office dropped a bombshell on the NFL on Thursday announcing that Foster is now facing multiple felony charges stemming from his second arrest. If convicted, the linebacker could face more than 11 years in prison.
Rewind to April of 2017 and many Raiders fans including myself were advocating that Oakland should have selected Foster over Conley. One year later in an ironic twist of fate, the tables have turned and both players find themselves in opposite positions to what they were in heading into the draft. Conley has become the player with injury concerns, and Foster is now the one who finds himself with some very serious allegations.