ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay: Alabama LB Reuben Foster best pure player

Oct 24, 2015; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Reuben Foster (10) , linebacker Denzel Devall (30) and defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson (54) wrap up Tennessee Volunteers running back Jalen Hurd (1) during the second quarter at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Todd McShay recently projected Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett as the No. 1 overall in the upcoming NFL Draft, but when it came to picking out the best pure player in this year’s class, he had another SEC defender in mind: Alabama LB Reuben Foster.

Foster, who won the Butkus Award, was No. 2 in the SEC in tackles last season (115). McShay projects Foster at No. 9 overall, predicting that the linebacker’s draft stock will not be negatively impacted by his dismissal from the NFL Scouting Combine earlier this month.

Nick Saban defended his former linebacker at Alabama’s pro day, calling Foster’s critics “short-sighted”:

“I think anyone that thinks what happened in Indy should affect this guy’s future in the draft is being very short-sighted,” Saban said during Alabama’s Pro Day. “He’s played here for four years, we’ve never had an issue with him. He’s always been a great leader, he’s a signal caller on defense, he’s bright. He’s always been a great team guy and really well liked by his teammates.

“If you’re looking for a good teammate for your team, Reuben’s going to be very, very good. If you’re looking for somebody to be a candy striper and be nice to everyone at the hospital, maybe not.”

NFLDraftScout.com also projects Foster at No. 9 overall and lists him as the No. 1 linebacker.

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