A trio of Washington Huskies defensive backs were selected in the first 11 picks of the second round of the 2017 NFL draft, giving UW four players drafted in the first and second rounds for just the second time in school history.
Kevin King was the first UW player off the board on Friday, going No. 33 overall — the first pick of the second round — to the Green Bay Packers. All-America safety Budda Baker soon followed, Arizona picking him with the No. 36 selection, and cornerback Sidney Jones made it a trifecta by going No. 43 overall to the Philadelphia Eagles.
John Ross III, the speedy UW receiver, went No. 9 overall to the Cincinnati Bengals during Thursday’s first round. Friday’s showing just edged that of UW’s 2015 draft class, which had four players selected in the draft’s first 44 picks — Danny Shelton, Marcus Peters and Shaq Thompson in the first round, and Hau’oli Kikaha at No. 44 in the second.
The trio of King, Baker and Jones give the Huskies five defensive backs drafted in the first or second round in the past five years. Desmond Trufant (No. 22 in 2013) and Peters (No. 18 in 2015) are the others.
King, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound cornerback from Oakland, California, was widely projected as a first-round prospect — thanks in part to a stellar performance at the scouting combine — and was among those invited to Philadelphia to attend the draft festivities.
He didn’t hear his name called on Thursday, but didn’t have to wait long, obviously, for the Packers to make him the first pick of Friday’s second round.
As King put it: “I wasn’t leaving here without a hat.”
“I wanted my parents and all my brothers and sisters getting a chance of experiencing all this, walking the red carpet,” King told reporters, according to Green Bay’s official website. “This was one last thing they needed to experience, being in the green room and hearing the call, and me walking out there and getting my hat.”
Baker, a Bellevue native, was also projected as a fringe first-or-second-round pick. A two-time, first-team all-league safety and a consensus All-America selection as a junior in 2016, Baker joins an Arizona defense that also features former Washington State safety Deone Bucannon, safety Tyrann Mathieu and cornerback Patrick Peterson — and as a member of an NFC West team, he is guaranteed one trip to Seattle every season.
The Cardinals gave up a considerable haul to move up from No. 45 to No. 36, sending the Chicago Bears their second-round pick, a fourth-round pick and a sixth-round pick in this year’s draft, plus a 2018 fourth-round pick.
In a conference call with Arizona reporters, Baker, who played all over Washington’s star-studded secondary, likened himself to one of his new teammates.
“Along the lines of Tyrann Mathieu,” Baker said, “I can bring versatility.”
Jones’ status was more tenuous. A 6-foot, 186-pound cornerback, Jones, a two-time, first-team All-Pac-12 performer, was widely viewed as a first-round talent before tearing the Achilles tendon in his left leg at UW’s Pro Day workout. And while that injury likely cost him a spot in the first round, the Eagles made sure Jones didn’t fall too far.
Eagles executive Howie Roseman didn’t commit to playing Jones this season, telling reporters in Philadelphia that “we’re going to take it slow. We’re going to make sure we have 100 percent of Sidney.”
Jones recently sent a letter to each NFL team signed by his doctor, Robert Anderson, stating that he should be able to resume full football activities in four to six months — a timetable that could allow him to play by September, though the Eagles didn’t offer an estimate.
Roseman said he sees Jones as a “difference maker.”
“It’s hard to get that guy, period,” Roseman said, according to Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer, “let alone at (pick) 43.”
Another UW prospect, defensive lineman Elijah Qualls, will likely be picked on Saturday, when the draft concludes with rounds four through seven. Qualls was projected by NFL.com as a third or fourth-round prospect.
A handful of other UW players — such as defensive end Joe Mathis and tight end Darrell Daniels — could be drafted in the later rounds, or sign somewhere as undrafted free agents.