With concern mounting about Reuben Foster's viability as a top-10 pick in the 2017 draft (April 27-29 in Philadelphia), NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock threw cold water on the notion that the Alabama linebacker will fall far down draft boards.
"There are some red flags there. I think the combine incident has been wiped clean by almost every team. I think that was way overdone and the kid should not have been sent home. That's my opinion and most people in the league believe that," Mayock told reporters during a conference call Friday. "As far as the diluted sample at the combine, that's always really disappointing and has to be taken into consideration. I think the shoulder is apparently going to be OK from a re-check perspective, I don't see him sliding all that far. I think he's a top-20 pick all day long in any draft. Could he have been a top-10 pick? He still might be a top-10 pick.
"The interesting thing is (Temple pass rusher) Haason Reddick has made up so much ground in this process that the two of them are considered pretty closely together at this point. But I still think Foster is a top-20 pick all day long."
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Thursday that Foster was notified that his urine sample obtained during the combine was reported as dilute and would be treated "like a positive test." The linebacker said the dilution was the result of him drinking fluids to combat food poisoning. Foster will be placed in the NFL's drug program after he is drafted.
The positive test is the latest in a string of negative pre-draft developments for the Alabama linebacker. Foster had surgery to repair a partially torn rotator cuff after the season, and while at combine rechecks, doctors found it was on schedule, there have been media reports that he might need a second surgery. At the combine, Foster also got into a heated altercation with a hospital worker and was sent home prior to completing his medical exam; he later sent a letter to teams apologizing for his dismissal.
The linebacker's pre-draft issues bring to mind the last top prospect who fell far down boards on draft day: Randy Gregory. The Nebraska pass rusher was slated to be go in the top five of the 2015 draft before he failed a combine drug test. The positive test confirmed issues that Gregory had with marijuana at Nebraska; the prospect tested postive twice for the drug in college and told NFL Network's Kimberly Jones at the time that he used marijuana to "cope with anxiety." Gregory was selected by the Cowboys with the 60th pick in the second round and is currently serving a year-long suspension for his third drug-related violation.
While Gregory's failed drug test and chronicled issues are more severe red flags than Foster's diluted sample, the comparison is good for context, just in case Foster's stock drops on draft night. If Mayock has anything to matter, that won't happen.