As expected, Washington will lose at least four underclassmen to this year’s NFL draft.
The school announced Tuesday that junior defensive backs Budda Baker and Sidney Jones, fourth-year junior defensive lineman Elijah Qualls and fourth-year junior receiver John Ross will all forego their final season of eligibility and enter the 2017 NFL draft.
“These four players have been a big part of the progress this program has made during their time here," UW coach Chris Petersen said in a statement released by the school. "We wish them all the success in the world as they pursue their professional goals."
ESPN reported Ross’ decision on Monday. All four players are projected by CBS Sports as likely first or second-round draft picks. That website lists Jones and Ross among the top 30 prospects in the draft class. All four players were first-team All-Pac-12 selections, and Baker earned consensus All-America status.
Another UW player whose draft stock steadily increased throughout the season is third-year sophomore Vita Vea, who was not included in UW’s official release. There is no official word from the school on Vea’s status, though the fact he wasn’t included in this announcement might indicate that he is likely to return to school for the 2017 season.
Here is the full press release from the school:
Four Washington football players – safety Budda Baker, cornerback Sidney Jones, defensive lineman Elijah Qualls and wide receiver John Ross – have opted to forgo their senior seasons and enter their names in the 2017 NFL Draft.
"These four players have been a big part of the progress this program has made during their time here," said UW head coach Chris Petersen. "We wish them all the success in the world as they pursue their professional goals."
The Huskies completed a 12-2 season in the College Football Playoff semifinal last Saturday at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
Baker, from Bellevue, Wash., was a consensus first-team All-America selection as a true junior in 2016. He led the Husky defense with 71 total tackles and 10 tackles for a loss. He also notched three sacks and two interceptions for a defense that led the Pac-12 in both scoring and total defense. Baker started all 41 games of his three-year career at the UW
Jones was a three-year starter (39 of 41 games) at cornerback who led the UW (or shared the lead) in interceptions as a freshman and sophomore. As a junior in 2016, the Diamond Bar, Calif., product earned second-team All-America from the Football Writers and Sports Illustraed, as well as first-team honors from scout.com. He notched three interceptions with six additional pass break-ups in 2016.
Qualls, from Petaluma, Calif., is a fourth-year junior, having redshirted in 2013. A two-year starter, he earned first-team All-Pac-12 in 2016, recording 38 tackles and five tackles for loss. FOX Sports named him second-team All-America in 2016.
Ross, also a fourth-year player, came back from injuries that cost him the 2015 season to record one of the most successful seasons by a wide receiver in UW history. His 17 touchdown receptions were second-most in both Husky and Pac-12 history, earning him second-team AP All-America as well as first-team honors from ESPN and scout.com. The Long Beach, Calif., native also played cornerback during his Husky career and returned a school-record four kick returns for touchdowns as a Husky.