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Originally published April 29, 2011 at 9:26 PM | Page modified April 29, 2011 at 10:43 PM

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Former Huskies linebacker Mason Foster drafted by Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Foster was taken with the 20th pick of the third round of the NFL draft on Friday, No. 84 overall.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers weren't among the teams that had shown the most overt interest in Mason Foster leading up to the NFL draft.

"I didn't work out for them at all," the former Washington linebacker said. "I met them at the Senior Bowl and that was about it."

But the Bucs had apparently seen all they needed, taking Foster with the 20th pick of the third round Friday, No. 84 overall.

"I think it's a great fit for me," said Foster, who was second in the nation in tackles last season with 163. "I feel like they are a great team with a young head coach (Raheem Morris) that is up and rising. I feel good about this pick right here."

Foster, who watched the draft with family and friends in Seattle, said he tried to view it the same as all the drafts he watched as a kid, instead of worrying about where he would be taken.

"Whenever they called my name, it was going to be good," he said.

Tampa Bay returns all three of its starting linebackers, but wanted to upgrade its defense in the draft. The Buccaneers used their first three draft picks on that side of the ball, including getting defensive end Da'Quan Bowers of Clemson in the second round.

Foster said he feels like he'll be able to find a role in Tampa Bay's defense and that "I'm just going to come in and try to make an impact wherever I'm at."

A story on the Bucs' team website said Tampa Bay coaches liked the fact Foster had been elected a team captain last season.

Washington coach Steve Sarkisian predicted Friday that Foster will be "a great pro. He's such a versatile guy. He's got the ability to play in space but yet play hard-nosed football. He's an excellent pass rusher, and he's got ball instincts. I don't know how many times in two years the ball gets tipped into the air and it finds its way into No. 40's hands.

"He's just got great instincts, and in the NFL he equates to a three-down linebacker, meaning he can play first- and second-down football, but even in nickel situations, he can rush the passer or cover people — he can do that really well, too."

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com

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