How to Watch
TV- ESPN or NFL Network
In 2016, the Washington Huskies reached the College Football Playoff for the first time. Teams that reach those heights usually have one thing in common. They feature a large number of players that will be selected in the first few rounds of the next NFL Draft. The Huskies are no exception. Over the next few days, as many as 7 Dawgs will fulfill a life-long dream and be selected in the NFL Draft to play professional football. I’ll go over the names that could be called tonight and feature other Dawgs as part of the preview for the subsequent days. I’ve looked at over two dozen mock drafts to try to crowd-source the wisdom of people who analyze the draft for a living. But every NFL team is different and no one has all of the info. That said, here’s what you can expect tonight.
John Ross- WR
Coming into the season, there were brief murmurs about Ross being a potential 1st or 2nd day draft pick. My take on that was that if Ross blew up and had a year good enough to leave early then it would be worth it to only have him for one more year. And it was. Ross was absolutely dominant this season, finishing 2nd in the Pac-12 in receiving yards with 1,150 and 3rd in the nation in receiving touchdowns with 17. He showed the blinding speed to be a dominant deep threat but also an ability to beat his man in a phone booth near the goal line to score on slants and fades.
Then Ross became the story of the NFL Combine as he ran a 4.22 in the 40-yard dash, breaking Chris Johnson’s combine record. While the 40-yard dash isn’t the best signifier of future performance, it is the most paid attention to event at the combine by fans and thus Ross is now a household name. The only reason that he isn’t a consensus top-10 pick is the injury history. Ross missed the 2015 season due to a knee injury and had shoulder surgery this off-season. He’s in the 19th percentile in weight and 21st percentile in height among draft-eligible wide receivers so he’s viewed as fairly slight and possibly susceptible to further damage.
Ross seems very likely to go in the 1st round. 26 of the 30 mock drafts I looked at had Ross as a #1 pick. If a team at the bottom end of the top-10 gives Ross an all-clear on his medicals then it wouldn’t surprise me if he goes 8th to 10th. Mike Mayock reported though that several teams have taken Ross off their board and others have moved him down because of the injuries. That could mean Ross slides if those teams include ones that are seemingly great fits like Baltimore or Tennessee. The most recent mocks in particular have been less optimistic than ones a week ago. Still, I would expect the most likely outcome is that Ross goes somewhere in the middle of the 1st round.
Highest Pick: #8- Carolina Panthers
Lowest Pick: #32- New Orleans Saints
Most Common Pick: #18- Tennessee Titans
Composite Prospect Rank: 15th Overall, 2nd Wide Receiver
Kevin King- CB
For most of his career at Washington, King has been the bridesmaid but he’s about to be the bride. UW has had a recent string of shutdown corner destined for NFL stardom. First Desmond Trufant, then Marcus Peters, and Sidney Jones was billed to be next. And it certainly seemed that Jones was on his way to becoming the next mid-1st round UW corner before tearing his Achilles at the UW pro day.
Jones’s dominance on one side of the field gave King plenty of opportunities in 2016 and he took advantage. King didn’t give up a touchdown during the year and made a number of highlight plays including his incredible end zone interception against Arizona State. That was good enough to be viewed as a 3rd or 4th round pick at season’s end. But then the NFL Combine happened.
King was an absolute monster in Indianapolis. Check out his percentiles compared to other corners below.
In everything except the bench press, King showed that he is an elite athlete and that led him to be viewed as a likely 1st round pick. The fact that King was invited in person to the Draft shows that the league expects his name to be called tonight. 21 of the 30 mocks that I looked at had King going in the 1st round. If Gareon Conley drops following the rape allegation that came out this week it could work in King’s benefit as he will likely leapfrog the Ohio State standout in the cornerback pecking order.
Highest Pick: #11- New Orleans Saints
Lowest Pick: #47- Baltimore Ravens
Most Common Pick: #24- Oakland Raiders
Composite Prospect Ranking: 29th Overall, 3rd Cornerback
Budda Baker- S
If you go to nearly any mock draft, the writer will tell you that Baker is one of their favorite players in the draft. His playing style and his mental and athletic traits just scream impact player. The one thing that holds back Budda’s draft stock is his size. Compare Budda’s percentile chart to King’s above.
He has elite agility and speed but is undersized in every other regard. In today’s NFL, the ability to guard the slot receiver is more valuable than it’s ever been and Baker showed that he could do that while at Washington. The success of a guy like Tyrann Mathieu has done wonders for Baker’s NFL comparisons but it still may not be enough to get him 1st round status. The fact that Jabrill Peppers is a similarly versatile safety in the same draft who got a lot more national notoriety probably doesn’t help either. Only 1 of the 30 mock drafts that I looked at had him going in the 1st round but as Lloyd Christmas said “So you’re saying there’s a chance?”
Highest Pick: #30- Pittsburgh Steelers
Lowest Pick: #63- Atlanta Falcons
Most Common Pick: #49- Washington Redskins
Composite Prospect Ranking: 47th Overall, 5th Safety
Sidney Jones- CB
I’ll profile Sidney tomorrow for day 2 as it appears incredibly unlikely that his name will be called tonight. It still seemed fitting to mention him here as without the Achilles injury in March, he without a doubt would have been picked here. Whichever team ends up with him will get a steal.
For those who like to see how well the rest of the conference is represented, here’s a list of non-UW Pac-12 players who could be taken tonight.
Solomon Thomas- DE
Highest Pick: #2- San Francisco 49ers
Lowest Pick: #9- Cincinnati Bengals
Most Common Pick: #2- San Francisco 49ers
Composite Prospect Ranking: 2nd Overall, 2nd Defensive End
Christian McCaffrey- RB
Highest Pick: #6- New York Jets
Lowest Pick: #23- New York Giants
Most Common Pick: #8- Carolina Panthers
Composite Prospect Ranking: 9th Overall, 2nd Running Back
Garrett Bolles- OT
Highest Pick: #19- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Lowest Pick: #36- Chicago Bears
Most Common Pick: #26- Seattle Seahawks
Composite Prospect Ranking: 25th Overall, 4th Offensive Lineman
Marcus Williams- S
Highest Pick: #31- Atlanta Falcons
Lowest Pick: #72- New England Patriots
Most Common Pick: #52- Cleveland Browns
Composite Prospect Ranking: 54th Overall, 6th Safety
Chidobe Awuzie- CB
Highest Pick: #21- Detroit Lions
Lowest Pick: #54- Miami Dolphins
Most Common Pick: #29- Green Bay Packers
Composite Prospect Ranking: 36th Overall, 6th Cornerback
Adoree Jackson- CB
Highest Pick: #18- Tennessee Titans
Lowest Pick: #50- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Most Common Pick: #28- Dallas Cowboys
Composite Prospect Ranking: 33rd Overall, 5th Cornerback
Takkarist McKinley- DE/OLB
Highest Pick: #15- Indianapolis Colts
Lowest Pick: #60- Dallas Cowboys
Most Common Pick: #31- Atlanta Falcons
Composite Prospect Ranking: 31st Overall, 7th Edge Rusher
Davis Webb- QB
Highest Pick: #25- Houston Texans
Lowest Pick: #94- Pittsburgh Steelers
Composite Prospect Rankings: 59th Overall, 5th QB
Follow along in the comments as the draft unfolds tonight.