From now until the 2023 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top 10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections and priority undrafted free agents. Today, we’ll be profiling Notre Dame LB Isaiah Foskey
#7 ISAIAH FOSKEY/LB NOTRE DAME – 6046, 262 (SENIOR)
Senior Bowl Participant
|Player||Ht/Wt||Hand Size||Arm Length||Wingspan|
|Isaiah Foskey||6046 / 262||10||33 3/4||81 5/8|
|40-Yard Dash||10-Yard Dash||Short Shuttle||3-Cone|
|Broad Jump||Vertical||Bench Press|
— Prototypical size for an edge defender in a 3-4 defense
— Great overall athletic ability with good foot speed and change of direction
— Can win a rep on his athletic ability alone
— Good use of hands to bat down incoming punches
— Solid use of the long arm technique to convert speed to power
— Willing run defender who isn’t afraid of contact
— Good mental processing while tracking running backs, flowing with the play and keeping his eyes in the backfield
— Good competitive toughness, hustling to the ball even when he is on the back side of the play
— Smooth backpedal and speed to drop into coverage when needed
— Provides value on special teams with multiple punts blocked throughout college
— Adequate timing off the snap with his first step
— Lacks nuance in his pass rush plan, if speed-to-power fails he doesn’t have an effective counter that showed up consistently
— Leans his body weight on his opponent, ends up on the ground more than he should
— Struggles to recover if the opposing tackle lands the first punch
— Does not consistently turn the corner at the top of the arc due to just adequate bend and hip flexibility
— Gets stuck on blocks and has trouble disengaging
— 22 years old (DOB: 10/22/00)
— From Antioch, CA, played at storied high school program, De La Salle
— Two-way player in high school (TE/OLB)
— 4-star recruit out of high school
— Played in 41 games through four years at Notre Dame, starting his last two seasons
— 26.5 sacks, 31.5 tackles for loss, 7 forced fumbles
— All-time sack leader for Notre Dame
— Team captain in 2022
— Opted to return to school in ’22 with a focus on becoming a first-round draft pick
Foskey is a big name in this draft cycle due to his athletic profile and his production at Notre Dame, but the way I stumbled onto his tape was through watching this play against Dawand Jones. Jones is 6’8″ and 359 pounds, yet on this play Foskey planted him on his back by swatting away the punch and converting speed to power to knock him off balance.
It wasn’t all good for Foskey in the season opener against Ohio State though, as he faced off against two highly touted tackle prospects and had one of his quietest games of the season. On this play, his speed couldn’t overcome the tackle’s length and a solid punch dropped him to the ground. He let his body weight get too far out in front of him and it cost him the rep. Ohio State’s tackles have pro-caliber tools at their disposal which is rare in college, but less so in the NFL, so the lack of production in this game is a bit concerning.
While Foskey does not have a very mature arsenal of pass rush moves, he has shown flashes of great hand usage. On this play, he is able to grip the tackle’s wrist on his outside arm and uses that as a lever to swim back inside. This shows the potential that Foskey brings if he can consistently win the hand-fighting and develop some counter moves when his first move fails.
He is a willing participant in run defense and isn’t scared to engage with bigger offensive linemen. On this play, Foskey stuffs the pulling guard, clogging up any inside rushing lanes before using his hip and shoulder strength to toss the guard to the side and finish the play with a nice tackle. He was consistently able to keep his eyes in the backfield and flow towards the ball throughout his tape and this play was a great example.
Though his forced fumbles declined from six in ’21 to just one in ’22, Foskey is conscious about punching at the ball. This is a great trait for an edge rusher to have being able to turn a positive play into a game-changing play. These were two of the higher-quality sacks I saw from him in the games I watched.
Outside linebackers are asked to drop into coverage from time to time which should be no problem for him. His athleticism holds up well when dropping into coverage. In this clip you can see him sprinting out to the flat to cover a wide receiver and does not look out of place. His play speed is great.
There is a lot to like when looking at Foskey with his height, weight, and play speed on tape all seemingly right in line with the “prototypical” edge rusher. He regressed a bit in his senior season with a drop off in forced fumbles and the quality of his sacks being pretty low, but its hard to complain when you set the school record for sacks previously held by Justin Tuck.
This is a guy that has a great chance at the Senior Bowl to build momentum in the pre-draft process which would set him up nicely for what should be an excellent combine. His athleticism is easy to see on tape. Without a go-to pass rush move and underdeveloped counter moves, his production will be limited in the NFL early on, but flashes of his hand fighting and play strength leave you thinking he could develop into something great.
The Steelers could be in the market for an edge rusher depending on how they want to handle Demarvin Leal entering his second season. If they do decide to invest in that third guy in the OLB rotation with Alex Highsmith and TJ Watt, they could do a lot worse than Isaiah Foskey. To me, the value isn’t there for the Steelers until the 32nd or 49th overall selection if he makes it that far.
Projection: Late Day One
Depot Draft Grade: 8.3 – Future Quality Starter (2nd Round)
Games Watched: vs Southern California (2021), vs Cincinnati (2021), at Ohio State (2022), at North Carolina (2022)