2023 NFL Draft Scouting Report

Isaiah Foskey

November 18, 2022 1:00 PM EST

Isaiah Foskey Scouting Report picture

School: Notre Dame

Height: 6'5"

Weight: 265

Eligibility: SR

Uniform: #7

Position: DE

Evaluated by: Sam Teets
Twitter: Sam_Teets33
November 18, 2022

Prospect Overview

2019: 4 games
2020: 12 games
2021: 13 games
2022: 10 games to date

Foskey was a four-star recruit from De La Salle High School in Concord, Calif. in the class of 2019. He was the No. 211 recruit according to 247Sports and No. 205 for On3.com. Foskey was an unranked three-star recruit for Rivals. ESPN ranked him 209th in the nation with an 82 grade out of 100.

Isaiah Foskey Scouting Report image 1

Foskey helped De La Salle High School reach the 2018 North Coast Section Open Division championship. He participated in the 2019 All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas. He chose Notre Dame over offers from Alabama, Florida, Miami, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Tennessee, and Washington.

Foskey stepped into a full-time starting role with the Fighting Irish in 2021 and has led the team in sacks and tackles for loss ever since. As a junior, he amassed 52 tackles (fourth for Notre Dame), 9.5 tackles for loss (first), 32 pressures (third), ten sacks (first), and six forced fumbles (first). Foskey applied pressure on the quarterback on 11.3% of his pass rush attempts.

Through nine appearances in 2022, Foskey has 35 tackles, ten tackles for loss, 26 pressures, and eight sacks. He's producing pressure on roughly 10.6% of his pass rush snaps.

Phil Steele selected Foskey as a 2021 All-Independent First-Team and 2021 All-American Third- Team member. The Associated Press chose Foskey as a 2022 Preseason First-Team All-American alongside Alabama's Will Anderson Jr. and Iowa State's Will McDonald IV.

Isaiah Foskey Scouting Report image 2


Foskey possesses terrific burst and good arm length. His explosiveness off the line is often the key to beating tackles. When he doesn't win outright, Foskey has the long arms and active hands to deploy a one-armed bull rush or cross chop and pull himself around the tackle's outside shoulder.

Foskey's pursuit speed and range make him a threat to run down quarterbacks who escape the pocket. He is a high-motor player who shows some savvy when it comes to stripping or poking the ball out. There are flashes of him converting speed to power and using his long arms to lift tackles out of their stances and walk them back to the quarterback.

Notre Dame occasionally has Foskey play off-ball linebacker, where he displays good range in coverage and enough polish to stick with running backs on routes. Foskey's arm length helps him disengage blocks and redirect to the football against the run.

Foskey has the play strength to play through contact in half-man on his way to the quarterback. He displays sufficient bend to flatten at the top of his rush and threaten the outside track. Foskey's terrific acceleration ensures he gets home when there's an open path to the football.

Foskey also offers immediate upside on special teams. He blocked two punts against UNLV (2022) and has four total blocked kicks during his college career. By the end of the season, he'll have played around 350 career special teams snaps split between the kick return, kick coverage, punt return, and field goal block units.

Foskey is a respected leader of Notre Dame's team and represents his program at the highest level. The 2022 defensive captain spent the summer traveling across Europe and the United States to work on a variety of projects with his teammates and head coach. The team that drafts Foskey knows they're getting a high-character individual with brand ambassador potential.

Areas for Improvement

Foskey is an inconsistent run defender who sometimes struggles to set the edge and can get washed down the line. The former four-star recruit's tendency to bite on screens and play action means he's drawn out of position frequently, and he often misreads quarterback-running back exchanges.

Processing is a crucial part of playing defense in the NFL, especially as more college concepts work their way into professional schemes and playbooks. Foskey is only in his second year as a full-time starter, so it's understandable that he occasionally takes eye candy. However, NFL coaching staffs will expect him to make better split-second decisions.

Foskey is late activating his hands, which allows tackles to get into his pads. Foskey's pad level and bend around the edge are average at best. He doesn't consistently flatten his angle at the top of his rush and hasn't shown many instances of successfully working back to the tackle's inside shoulder.

Foskey's pass rush arsenal doesn't consist of basic spin or swim moves, and he relies heavily on his athletic tools to win instead of polished moves. Foskey has a one-armed bull rush and a cross chop at his disposal, but he needs to experiment with a larger variety of pass rushing moves and counters to avoid getting stuck on tackles.

For reference, Tyree Wilson applied pressure on about 19.6% of his pass rushes through his first nine games in 2022. Will Anderson Jr. (15.1%), Derick Hall (13.3%), and BJ Ojulari (16.2%) are currently more efficient pass rushers than Foskey, but he has all of the tools needed to close the gap.

Foskey doesn't have the sharpest turns or transitions when asked to stop and immediately redirect in short spaces. His quick acceleration often counters his questionable agility.

Isaiah Foskey Scouting Report image 3

Draft Stock

I gave Foskey an early second round to late second round evaluation over the summer, but he's established himself as a mid to late first round selection in the 2023 NFL Draft. The 6'5", 265 lb. (unofficial measurements) fourth-year edge rusher currently sits in the high teens to low twenties on most big boards, trailing Will Anderson Jr., Myles Murphy, and Tyree Wilson at the edge position.

Foskey struggled to make an impact when facing Paris Johnson Jr. and Dawand Jones in Notre Dame's 2022 season opener against Ohio State, but he rebounded with several nice games. He tormented Cal and North Carolina in back-to-back weeks, amassing 14 pressures and two sacks combined.

Foskey went back and forth with Syracuse left tackle and projected top 100 selection Matthew Bergeron in Week 9. Bergeron won most of the reps when the two matched up, but Foskey set a few hard edges and successfully walked Bergeron back five yards off the line of scrimmage before disengaging for half a sack midway through the fourth quarter.

Foskey also had a nice win that he finished with a sack against Clemson All-ACC left tackle Jordan McFadden in Notre Dame's upset win over the Tigers.

The 2023 NFL Draft is loaded with quality second and third round edge rushers. That saturation could cause Foskey and other potential first round selections like LSU's BJ Ojulari, Georgia's Nolan Smith, or Florida State's Jared Verse to fall into the second round.

There's no doubt that Foskey has a high motor and good athleticism, but teams will take long looks at his technical development and bend off the edge before locking him in as a Day 1 selection. However, I still feel comfortable giving Foskey a first round evaluation.

Isaiah Foskey Scouting Report image 4

Player Comparison

I cycled through several players while looking for an appropriate comparison for Foskey. We don't have to go that far back to find a decent match. Foskey shares some traits with former UCLA Bruin and Miami Hurricane Jaelan Phillips.

The Miami Dolphins selected Phillips with the 18th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, and he's quickly developed into an effective pass rusher. He and Foskey are roughly the same size, although the Notre Dame star weighs slightly more than his Miami counterpart. Phillips checked in with roughly 33.25" arms, and I expect Foskey to have slightly more length.

Phillips struggled to assert himself in the running game early in his NFL career, and he benefited from an abnormally high pressure-to-sack conversion rate. His play has been much more stable this season as he's taken over a full-time starting role and upgraded his pressure rate from 9.7% to about 14.9% through nine games.

The Dolphins went out of their way to pair Bradley Chubb with Phillips this season, and I believe entering a similar environment will help Foskey early in his career. A team where the Notre Dame star doesn't have to immediately serve as the top (or only) pass rusher will allow him to adjust to the NFL and fill out his game.

Apart from the physical comparison between Foskey and Phillips, both showed significant improvement as run defenders in their final college seasons. However, they didn't completely erase questions about their play strength and ability to set hard edges. High pad levels, late hands, and limited pass rush arsenals are some areas for improvement their draft profiles share.

However, Foskey flashed more power than Phillips did at Miami, and Phillips was a more bendy and explosive athlete. That said, they have some physical comparisons, will likely fill similar roles in the NFL, and should go in the same range in the first round.

Games Evaluated

  • Florida State (2021)
  • Purdue (2021)
  • Cincinnati (2021)
  • USC (2021)
  • Oklahoma State (2021)
  • Ohio State (2022)
  • California (2022)
  • UNLV (2022)
  • Syracuse (2022)
  • Clemson (2022)

Scouting Video Courtesy of JustBombs Productions

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