April 28th, 2018. The day the Bills may have found their number one receiver. Let me take you back to what was going on this day. It was the last day of the NFL Draft. The Bills had drafted Josh Allen seventh overall just two days earlier, which sent BillsMafia into a frenzy of frustration and excitement. The Bills concluded their draft by taking slot receiver Austin Proehl from North Carolina with the 255th pick of the 2018 draft. Soon after began the undrafted free agent period, where all 32 teams started signing players left and right. The Bills signed 12 undrafted free agents in 2018. One of these signings was Alabama wide receiver, Robert Foster.
Most fans know the story for Robert Foster. After having a very less than stellar training camp and preseason, it was widely thought that Foster would not make the 53-man roster. However, in surprising fashion, the coaching staff decided to keep Foster around. After only recording two receptions for 30 yards in the first six games of the 2018 season, Robert Foster was cut and placed on the practice squad. After spending two games on the practice squad, Foster was added back to the roster and activated for the Bills tenth game of the season against the New York Jets. As most of you know, Foster shined; recording three receptions for 105 yards. Foster would go on to be one of the top rookie wide receivers in the NFL, making Pro Football Focus’s all-rookie team.
Foster ended last season incredibly strong. In fact, if you were to take the numbers he put up over the last seven games of the season (25 receptions, 511 yards, and three touchdowns) and average that over 16 games, Foster would have finished with 57 receptions, 1,168 yards, and just about seven touchdowns. Essentially, Foster put up number one wide receiver numbers. While this is an impressive feat, it’s this is not the only reason why Foster may be the Bills number one receiver moving forward.
Robert Foster has always been a very talented football player, all the way back to his days coming out of high school. Foster was a part of the 2013 recruiting class and was ranked as the 25th overall recruit (according to ESPN) and number two wide receiver in the class behind LaQuon Treadwell. Now, I know that Treadwell has been a bust in the NFL, but in high school, he was an absolute beast (just check out his high school highlights and you’ll see what I’m talking about). Additionally, Foster was the number one player coming out of the state of Pennsylvania. Just to further this point, here is a list of NFL stars whom Foster was ranked above coming out of high school: Alvin Kamara, Chris Jones, Joey Bosa, Hunter Henry, and Zeke Elliot.
Foster was expected to do big things at Alabama, but as many of you know, he did very little during his time in Tuscaloosa. However, it was never a matter of talent but instead his inability to stay on the field. During his college career, Foster never played a full 12 game season, and in his first three seasons, Foster only appeared in nine total games. Foster showed flashes of greatness during his time at ‘Bama including in his sophomore season. Foster put up ten receptions for 115 yards and two touchdowns in the only three games he played in that year. If you averaged that over 12 games, Foster’s stats would have been 40 receptions, 460 yards, and eight touchdowns. Ultimately, Foster never really got a chance to show his ability during his time at Alabama.
Foster has rare size and speed ability which put him on the map coming out of high school. He’s 6’2″, 200 lbs., and runs 4.41 40-yard dash. He developed a nice chemistry with Josh Allen and stayed healthy for the entire 2018 season. He became a really good route runner and was constantly creating separation against opposing DB’s last season (including Stephon Gilmore), while also trusting his hands more and more. With no definitive number one receiver on the Bills roster, Foster is likely the most talented player in the wide receiver room and has a golden opportunity to cement himself as the Bills “X receiver” moving forward. Get ready because “Big Play Rob” is here to stay.
Mitch Broder in a contributor for The Buffalo Fanatics. To contact him, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet him @mitchell_broder