FOOTBALL

Pros and cons of Saints taking Notre Dame football DE Isaiah Foskey in NFL Draft

Mike Berardino
ND Insider

SOUTH BEND — Isaiah Foskey, the modern-era sacks leader in Notre Dame football history, went to the New Orleans Saints in the second round (40th pick overall) of the 2023 NFL Draft Friday in Kansas City, Mo.

At 6-foot-5 and 264 pounds, Foskey projected as a Day 2 selection, similar to former Irish edge rusher Julian Okwara, who went 67th overall as a Detroit Lions third-round pick in 2020.

Former Notre Dame defensive lineman Isaiah Foskey goes through a drill Friday, March 24, 2023, at Notre Dame Pro Day activities in South Bend.

The positives 

Known primarily for his speed-rushing talent early in his career, Foskey learned over time to mix in a power component more effectively. A team captain and early entrant to this year’s draft, Foskey has improved as an edge setter against the run.

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Working with a new position coach in former Ohio State assistant Al Washington, Foskey lined up in a three-point stance more than he had since arriving in 2019 from De La Salle High School in Concord, Calif.

Credited with four blocked punts in his career, Foskey was an enthusiastic contributor on special teams as well.

Notre Dame defensive lineman Isaiah Foskey (7) in action against Navy offensive tackle Kip Frankland (68) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Terrance Williams)

His quick-twitch reactions ranked him seventh in athleticism among edge rushers invited to the combine. His 34-inch reach and 34-inch vertical stood out among defensive ends testing at the combine, as did his short-area quickness in the 20-yard shuttle run (fifth in his position group).

The concerns 

Foskey tended to bunch his production, which could cause some teams to question his motor. Held to just three sacks over Notre Dame’s first six games in 2022, he came to life with a three-sack breakout against outmanned UNLV.

Foskey ultimately piled up nine sacks over the season’s second half, including two apiece against Syracuse (and left tackle Matthew Bergeron) and two more in a loss at Southern California and Heisman Trophy frontrunner Caleb Williams.

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Despite his long arms, Foskey was credited with zero tipped or batted balls at the line in his career. He also fought through shoulder issues at times in his final two seasons but never missed a game due to injury.

Final thoughts 

His quiet personality and contemplative nature might have caused him to slip down the draft boards of certain teams. Between the lines, however, Foskey’s competitive streak and suddenness give him as much upside as those 27 career sacks suggest.

Mar 2, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Notre Dame defensive lineman Isaiah Foskey (DL29) participates in drills during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Follow Notre Dame football writer Mike Berardino on Twitter @MikeBerardino.