This should have been a relatively uneventful Pro Day at the University of Washington, as the Huskies’ top NFL draft prospects — four of them with first-round potential — already showed plenty at the scouting combine earlier this month.
Instead, cornerback Sidney Jones went down with a left leg injury during his final positional drill — a source close to Jones later confirmed that he tore his Achilles tendon, as originally feared — casting a pall over what had been an impressive workout to that point before a crowd of a few dozen NFL evaluators.
Jones, a two-time first-team All-Pac-12 selection and a projected first-round draft pick, was backpedaling when he pulled up, fell to the ground and immediately grabbed at his left leg.
Fellow UW defensive back Budda Baker, another possible first-round pick, helped Jones to his feet before UW coach Chris Petersen and a team trainer helped Jones off the field, his left foot barely touching the ground.
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Jones stood on the sideline for a while as he spoke with Petersen and other UW personnel, then boarded the back of an equipment cart and elevated his left leg as he was driven out of the Dempsey Indoor facility.
A torn Achilles can require six months or more of recovery time, which obviously could affect Jones’ draft stock.
“It’s really tough, just because Sidney’s one of our best friends, all of our best friends, (and) he’s a great prospect coming out,” Baker said shortly after Jones’ injury, before the severity was known. “(I) felt like he could have been the first corner and still can be the first corner off the draft board. The last drill, last thing you’ve got to do, and that happens. Definitely sad, but we know Sidney’s strong and he’s going to still be there.”
None of the seven UW players invited to the combine in Indianapolis — Jones, Baker, defensive back Kevin King, receiver John Ross, tight end Darrell Daniels and defensive linemen Elijah Qualls and Joe Mathis — participated in any of Saturday’s timing events. Ross, who broke the NFL combine record with a 4.22-second 40-yard dash, only participated in position drills, running routes and catching passes from former Skyline High quarterback Jake Heaps.
King, who impressed at the combine with a 4.43-second 40-yard dash, a 39.5-inch vertical leap and the fastest three-cone time of anyone in attendance, said he simply wanted to prove Saturday that he can be consistent. He went through position drills with fellow defensive backs Baker, Jones and Brandon Beaver.
“I went out there on Monday and had a good outing, and I just wanted to be consistent,” he said. “Anybody can do it once. If you make one good play in a game and get beat three times, that’s not a good game. I just continue to showcase what I can do, (and) just let them know that it wasn’t a strike of lightning.”
Likewise, Ross had little left to prove after his combine performance. The first-team All-Pac-12 receiver was already projected as a potential first-round pick before he ran his 4.22, so that time only cemented his status as a likely first-rounder.
Ross is scheduled to undergo shoulder surgery next week, a procedure he said he put off until the combine and Pro Day were over. After that, he said his focus will be on recovery and mentally preparing for the April 27 draft.
“I just wanted to come out and finish, really,” Ross said. “Show everybody I can run more than just the go ball. I think I did a pretty good job of showcasing I can get in and out of my breaks.”
Other former UW players who worked out Saturday included offensive linemen Jake Eldrenkamp, Micah Hatchie and Sifa Tufunga; running back Deontae Cooper, who played his final college season at San Jose State; defensive lineman Tani Tupou, who spent time with the Seahawks last season at fullback; and receiver Drew Before. … After Pro Day concluded, UW held its annual “Husky Combine,” a Pro Day-like timing and measuring event for returning players.