Rookie DB Has Nose For Football

The Colts didn't select any defensive backs in this year's draft, but they did sign a free agent cornerback after the selections ended. Can he carve out a spot in the team's already-deep defensive backfield? Brad Keller has the skinny inside.

Texas cornerback Brandon Foster was not drafted during the course of Draft weekend this year, despite posting 48 tackles, three tackles for loss, and five interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns in 2007.

Foster even added a fumble return for a touchdown and set a Texas record for defensive touchdowns last season with a total of three.  How could a prospect with that kind of production at a major school go all seven rounds of the 2008 NFL Draft without hearing his name called?

The answer is three-tiered: Foster stands a meager 5 feet, 7 1/2 inches, weighing 185 pounds, he was only a full-time starter for his senior season, and he used all five years of eligibility and will turn 24 on Christmas Day this year, making him a practical graybeard in this year's class.

There have certainly been older prospects drafted — Chris Weinke, drafted in the fourth round by the Carolina Panthers in 2001 at the age of 28 comes to mind — so, age may not necessarily be that much of a factor.

A program such as the one at Texas has a long waiting list for starting positions unless you're a coveted recruit or have an excellent pedigree, so that can also be excused.  Plus, Foster was probably held out of the starting lineup due to his diminutive stature.

Brandon Foster
Al Messerschmidt/Getty

And when it comes down to brass tacks, his size — specifically his height — is the issue in question.

However, the Colts do have a history of taking undersized prospects and making them into very productive NFL players.  Bob Sanders, at 5 feet, 8 inches and 206 pounds, comes to mind, but it is far too early to draw comparisons between an undrafted cornerback and the reigning Defensive Player of the Year.

It is not, though, too early to draw comparisons between Foster and current sub-package defender Tim Jennings, who stands 5 feet, 8 inches as well and tips the scales at the same 185 pounds. 

When given the chance to play, Foster certainly showed a nose for the ball, as evidenced by his five interceptions and three touchdowns.

He has tremendous speed, clocking a 4.31 time in the 40-yard dash, and you simply don't reach this level in the football universe with his dimensions without possessing a great deal of tenacity and will to succeed, no matter what the naysayers tell you.

The bad news for Foster is that the Colts already have a great deal of depth at the position, with starters Marlin Jackson and Kelvin Hayden backed up two levels with Jennings, Michael Coe, Dante Hughes, and TJ Rushing, who also returns kicks.

The key for Foster will be to catch on in the kicking game.  It's no secret that the return game and coverage units were a weak spot for the Colts during the 2007 season.

A player of Foster's stature, disposition, nose for the ball, and speed would make an ideal gunner in punt coverage.

Scout Tom Marino states, "Good special teams production and potential (gunner) ... Good college player that has the chance to factor as a nickel back in the right system." 

It should come as no surprise that ColtPower agrees with Marino's assessment of Foster.  With time on special teams, an opportunity to learn the system under the guidance of Tony Dungy, Ron Meeks, and defensive backs coach Alan Williams, and the chance to adjust to the violence and contact of the NFL game on his small frame, he will likely find his niche as a sub-package player and a special teams ace.

As a street free agent, it's up to Foster to write the next chapter in his football life.  It's also up to the Colts and their exceptional staff to help him get there.

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