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Saints 2017 What Could Have Happened: Reuben Foster to the Saints

Ryan Ramczyk was great, but Foster could have been a headache.

San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams

It’s time to start a brief series where we can look back on transactions, plays, or moments that, with the benefit of hindsight, helped the Saints in 2017. Whether it be a luck of the draw, a trade that fell through, or a move the Saints didn’t end up making despite reports, the Saints were the beneficiary of quite a bit of luck last year. The Saints might have initially been disappointed that a particular move didn’t come through at the time, and that is no more true than when the Saints were on deck with the 32nd overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Let’s rewind to the end of the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Pick #31 is on the clock with the Seattle Seahawks. The New Orleans Saints are on deck at 32 with the pick they acquired from the New England Patriots. Reports are that while pick #31 was on the clock, the Saints were on the phone with Alabama Linebacker Reuben Foster, planning on taking the promising Linebacker with the very next pick. Surely the Seahawks wouldn’t draft Foster, what with Bobby Wagner lining up as Middle Lienbacker for Seattle.

And then the Saints had the rug pulled out from under them. Seattle made a trade with division rival San Francisco and the 49ers jumped ahead of the Saints and grabbed Foster. Foster reportedly hung up on the Saints to get the call from San Fransisco telling him that he had been selected 31st overall. The Saints were left scrambling and ended up selecting OT Ryan Ramczyk out of Wisconsin after losing out on Foster.

Ryan Ramczyk ended up being incredible for the Saints in 2017. Originally expected to be groomed as a starter behind Zach Strief, Ramczyk was thrust into the starting lineup after Strief went down in Week 1 against the Minnesota Vikings. Ramczyk then was shuffled around multiple spots of the offensive line, starting every game for the Saints in both the regular season and postseason.

Ramczyk graded out as one of the best rookies in the entire NFL in 2017 (according to Pro Football Focus), with the 4th-highest grade among all offensive rookies, one spot behind follow Saint Alvin Kamara. One spot behind Ramczyk? That would be 49ers LB Reuben Foster.

While Foster had a great season for the 49ers (with 59 total tackles and 1 pass defense), he only played in 10 games in 2017 with preseason injuries keeping Foster from debuting until midseason. Even with his tackles, Foster only accumulated 5 AV for the 2017 season. Admittedly, Pro Football Reference tends to overvalue offensive linemen with their AV system, but Ramczyk was able to amass 10 AV that can’t entirely be discounted.

And it’s not just a matter of comparing the players on the field that should make the Saints grateful they ended up “missing out” on Foster. It’s been continued off field drama that has kept Foster’s name in the news.

Foster has been arrested for the second time in a month during the offseason. First, he got popped for second-degree possession of marijuana in Alabama. Regardless of your viewpoint on the legality of marijuana, he was again arrested, this time in California, for an alleged act of domestic violence. It wouldn’t be a total shock for the NFL to suspend Foster for multiple games to start the 2018 season now, and the talented LB might just be slapped with the “character issues” tag that has haunted NFL players in the past.

Saints fans should give a quiet “thank-you” under their breathe to San Francisco for taking Reuben Foster off their hands.