INDIANAPOLIS – University of Washington linebacker Mason Foster looks to former teammate Donald Butler for motivation at this week’s NFL scouting combine.
Butler was an unheralded, little-known prospect nationally when he showed up at the Senior Bowl last year, but he used an impressive performance there and at the combine to become San Diego’s third-round pick in last year’s draft.
Foster is hoping for a similar ascent in his draft status after an attention-grabbing performance at the Senior Bowl last month.
“That was the plan – to come into the Senior Bowl, play as hard as I could and have fun,” he said. “And it worked out for me. So I’m just trying to keep it going at the combine.”
Foster says he talks to best-friend Butler regularly about the draft process, including a two-hour conversation about what to expect from coaches and scouts the day before he traveled to Indianapolis.
“Donald is one of my best friends,” Foster said. “Besides football and everything, he’s been one of my best friends since I walked on to UW. And definitely, having a guy who’s been through the Senior Bowl, who went through the combine and everything, is great to have in your corner.
“He just told me to relax and have fun, so it’s great to have a guy like that.”
At 6-foot-1, 245 pounds, Foster’s strength is his versatility. He has the athletic ability to play on the perimeter but the uncanny anticipation to make plays from the inside.
A four-year starter, Foster was a tackling machine at Washington, leading the Pacific-10 Conference in tackles the past two seasons. Foster played weak-side outside linebacker his senior season and was named to the all-conference first team. Foster said he’s more comfortable at that position because he has had so much success there. But he played strong-side outside linebacker for the Huskies his junior season and also at the Senior Bowl. And one of the things NFL scouts like about him is his ability to play all the linebacker positions.
“It’s always a good thing to be versatile because if one team doesn’t need you at one position, you can play another one. So it’s always good to be able to show different things. It also helps me as a linebacker understand defense better.”
Foster’s total of 163 tackles was a single-season high in the Pac-10 since UW’s Jim Clifford made 168 tackles in 1989.
CARROLL: DRAFT DEEP
Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll talked to Seattle-area reporters Saturday, saying the depth in this year’s draft class means the Hawks likely will get a shot at a good player when their turn comes in the first round at No. 25.
“I don’t think there’s any question that there’s going to be some choices at that spot,” he said. “There’s enough positions that have enough guys that there’s going to be a lot of guys there as we move our way through it. And I can’t imagine that positions will get wiped out, so we’re going to have some good shots there.
“But it’s not nearly as easy to call as last time. We really had a real good idea what was going on.”
According Carroll, the most important thing that occurred last season was the close relationship he and general manager John Schneider developed early.
“We worked hard at that,” he said. “We hung out. We stayed together, and just kind of lived together, and just kept talking and working together until our language became more connected and more common.”
On the ongoing negotiations with quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, Carroll said the two sides continue to talk, with Hasselbeck scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on Friday.
“All I will say is we’ve been working hard,” he said. “I’ve told you how I felt about it from the start, and we’ve continued to work hard. There’s a bit of a deadline coming up. March 4th is looming and so we’re working at stuff with a number of guys on the roster.”
Carroll also said he does not expect a lot of changes offensively, with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and offensive line coach Tom Cable taking over.
“Both guys come out of exactly the same foundation and terminology. There’s always something that you have to tweak. But the great majority of it these guys absolutely know, and they cross right over. Immediately, each guy can talk to the offense and they know exactly what they’re talking about.
“And it allows us not to have to change much. There’s a real continuity thought in mind there to help our players move ahead. To wholesale shift and change everything, particularly in this year, it could be harder. So we’re hoping that will really allow us to move quickly. But hopefully it will look better”