The Indianapolis Colts will be in the market for linebackers this offseason, and they’ll need to be looking at their inside linebacker position. This was evident simply by watching the tape of them play last year, but also because they recently released D’Qwell Jackson.
It’s now possible that both inside linebacker spots are up for grabs and both could stand to be upgraded, so the Colts could be looking to address that position this offseason, whether in free agency or in the draft.
When it comes to inside linebackers and the draft, there’s a notable report today from ESPN’s Adam Caplan: Reuben Foster, widely regarded as the top inside linebacker prospect in this year’s draft, had rotator cuff surgery on his right shoulder.
Caplan notes that the recovery process is four months, which should allow him to return by the start of training camps. He won’t participate in drills at the NFL Scouting Combine, but he will meet with teams.
Foster was a unanimous All-American last year at Alabama and was the winner of the Butkus Award, which is given to the nation’s top linebacker. In 2016, he recorded 115 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, five sacks, and eight quarterback hits. Part of the thing that makes Foster so well-regarded is that he’s capable of producing in multiple ways: he’s a physical player against the run; he can cover; and he can rush the quarterback. He’s expected to be a first round pick.
Here’s why this matters for the Colts: not only is it an injury to the top prospect at a huge position of need for Indianapolis, but it also could be significant in terms of draft stock. If some teams picking in the top half of the first round are scared away by Foster’s injury, then it could mean that he’ll still be available when the Colts pick at 14/15. If that’s the case, there likely won’t be many (if any) players still available who are better prospects than Foster, and he’d also address a big position of need for the Colts. If they’re confident he can get and stay healthy, he’d definitely be a guy worth serious consideration from Chris Ballard.