Budda Baker stars, John Ross market takes shape as injury clouds Washington pro day

SEATTLE -- Though few of the estimated 50 NFL scouts and coaches attending the University of Washington Huskies pro day expected him to compete in any of the measured drills, record-setting speedster John Ross was still the big name entering the program’s pro day workout Saturday.

For all of the wrong reasons, however, it was his former teammate Sidney Jones IV who wound up becoming the bigger story.

Jones suffered a potentially serious lower left leg injury during positional drills and had to be carted off the field. The early speculation was that Jones suffered an injury to his Achilles tendon, which, if requiring surgery, could put his availability for the 2017 season in doubt.

Here’s a clip of the injury as it happened:

Jones’ injury marred what should have been a celebration of Washington’s most talented class in years. A school record seven Huskies competed at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine, where Ross was clocked at 4.22 seconds in the 40-yard dash, setting a record as the fastest electronically timed player in combine history.

Jones’ injury was a tragic reminder of why players who perform well in Indianapolis often elect not to do much at their respective pro days.

None of the Washington players -- safety Budda Baker , tight end Darrell Daniels , Jones, cornerback Kevin King , edge rusher Joe Mathis , defensive tackle Elijah Qualls and Ross -- who were timed in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump or shuttle drills in Indianapolis opted to re-run these drills Saturday. With the exception of Jones and Mathis (foot), each participated in positional drills.

Jones (12 repetitions) and Mathis (34) did compete in the bench press prior to going to through positional workouts for scouts.

Until his injury, Jones looked good, showing off the smooth change of direction and acceleration that helped him keep a single opponent from catching a touchdown pass in 2016.

The real star of the defensive back drills, however, was Baker, whose elite quickness had scouts buzzing.

budda-baker.jpg
Baker had a big showing at Washington’s pro day. USATSI

The “biggest” knock on Baker is his lack of ideal size at a shade under 5-foot-10 and just 195 pounds, but there was no denying his fluidity Saturday. He also made several outstanding catches, catching up to passes that seemed out of his reach due to his rare straight-line speed (4.45 at the combine) for his position. Baker’s quick feet, loose hips and acceleration could earn him late first-round consideration as teams feel that he can play both nickel cornerback and safety.

Also helping his cause with a terrific positional workout was King, the only former UW defensive back to not drop a pass during Saturday’s workout.

King, who split time between safety and cornerback for the Huskies, wowed scouts in Indianapolis with his remarkable combination of size (6-3, 200), speed (4.43) and quickness (3.89 seconds in the short shuttle). According to a source close to King, he met with a representative of the New England Patriots this morning prior to his workout and left early with a member of the Los Angeles San Diego Chargers . Multiple teams have expressed a great deal of interest in King, including the Arizona Cardinals , Carolina Panthers , San Francisco 49ers , Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers .

Ross “had every team in the league” attempting to schedule private workouts and visits following his jaw-dropping combine performance but with shoulder surgery scheduled for Tuesday, his availability is limited. The Carolina Panthers, Cleveland Browns , Miami Dolphins , New York Jets , Philadelphia Eagles and Tennessee Titans have expressed the most interest in him, thus far, sources said.

Ross caught all but one pass during his positional workout, exploding in and out of his breaks and showing off his trademark acceleration. He made several finger tips grabs. His only drop came on a deep ball that he had to wait for and appeared to drop simply because of a momentary loss of concentration.

The 6-foot-1, 313-pound Qualls lacks the length scouts would prefer -- his 30 5/8-inch arms were second shortest of the 59 defensive linemen tested at the combine -- but he showed light feet and impressive power throughout his positional workout, knocking over the blocking sled at one point. He projects best as an under tackle in a 4-3 alignment. The Eagles have a private workout scheduled soon with Qualls.

Two former Huskies not invited to the combine who helped their cause Saturday were first-team All-Pac-12 guard Jake Eldrenkamp and safety Brandon Beaver, each of whom looked good in positional workouts. The 6-foot-4, 301-pound Eldrenkamp recorded 28 repetitions of 225 pounds, had a 26-inch vertical jump and was clocked at 5.25 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

Beavers (6-0, 216), overshadowed by the rest of Washington’s talented secondary, made a terrific one-handed grab that drew oohs and ahhs from the scouts during positional workouts, showing enough agility and speed to possibly generate late-round interest. 

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