Defensive back Jaylan Foster, who played with Samuel at South Carolina, met with the Bucs during the draft process according to Heavy’s Lorenzo Reyna. Bucs general manager Jason Licht didn’t rule out drafting for secondary depth this weekend in his pre-draft press conference on April 19.
“That’s a team that I watch closely just because of Tom Brady,” Foster told Reyna in an exclusive interview. “He wins. Seeing those guys and seeing those players and their scheme — you look at Mike Edwards at safety and Winfield, all of those guys I feel like we have similar game patterns. We play kind of similar and just seeing how those guys fit in there has me like ‘OK, I really can go into that defense and shine.'”
Foster emerged as an All-American player last fall for the Gamecocks with five interceptions, two forced fumbles, three pass deflections, and 97 tackles. He finished with the second-highest interception total in the nation last year. His career at South Carolina began with facing Samuel in practice as a member of the Gamecocks scout team before Samuel became a second-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers in 2019.
“I was on scout team for a couple of years so I was always going against Deebo every day in practice,” Foster told Reyna.
“I probably got on his nerves a lot because on the scout team, I was really supposed to just practice,” Foster added. “But week in and week out, being able to go against a guy like that, I may have treated it like practice but it helped me develop my mindset in a game.”
Bucs Likely to See Samuel This Season
If the 49ers trade Samuel, AFC powers Kansas City or Baltimore could be one of the destinations according to Sports Illustrated’s Conor Orr. The Bucs see both the Chiefs and Ravens this season. If the 49ers don’t trade Samuel, the Bucs could still see him since the 49ers are on the schedule, too. Having a player who faced Samuel regularly, as Foster did, couldn’t hurt if Foster fits in with the Bucs’ draft plans.
The Athletic’s Dane Brugler, via The State, projects Foster as “a potential late rounder or priority free agent by teams.” Brugler noted his performance against national champion Georgia as impressive but wrote that his size, 5-foot-10, and athletic ability might hold him back.
Foster Embraces Underdog Role
Size and athleticism haven’t stopped Foster at this point. His college career started off at FCS Gardner-Webb before he walked on at South Carolina.
“I felt under-recruited,” Foster told Reyna. “And I wanted the opportunity to put something on film my freshman year. I was blessed with that opportunity, but I felt I was ready to take that next step.”
Foster told Reyna that Bucs defensive back Sean Murphy-Bunting inspires him. Murphy-Bunting, like Foster, was a two-star prospect for college at Central Michigan. The Bucs took Murphy-Bunting in the second round of the 2019 draft, and he emerged as a key member of the secondary right away with three interceptions and a forced fumble as a rookie.