University of Washington cornerback Sidney Jones was doing his final defensive back drill of the Huskies’ pro day on Saturday when he fell during a backpedal and had to be carted off the field. The early reports are that Jones tore his Achilles, putting his whole rookie season in doubt with weeks left before the 2017 NFL Draft.
Jones had been considered a lock for the first round, potentially going in the top 12. A torn Achilles could definitely knock him out of the first, and it would be a wide range of guesses as far as how long it will be before Jones hears his name called; linebacker Jaylon Smith was the most notable player to be injured before the draft last year, after suffering nerve damage to his knee in his final game for Notre Dame. Smith fell from a probable top-5 pick to the top of the second round. Jones is not quite the prospect that Smith was, but a torn Achilles is more well-known and his future would probably be less in doubt.
NaVorro Bowman was the most notable player to tear his Achilles in the NFL last season and his timetable for return is still unknown. It’s been about seven months since Bowman tore his Achilles.
Unsurprisingly, Seattle Seahawks fans are already wondering if this means Jones can stay local and be a value pick for the Seahawks now that he could fall out of the top 25, but there are myriad reasons to not fall into the trap of wanting to draft a player just because you’re already used to rooting for him. For one, Jones just tore his Achilles, reportedly. Seattle just had a starting cornerback go down with a torn ACL, which is one of the big reasons why the position is high on their list of needs. Jones is doing nothing for anyone next season, so it would be using a draft pick on a position of need for 2017 despite the fact that he won’t be available. A move like that only increases the importance of the Seahawks not missing on their other picks and that would still have to include a corner or two.
Number two, Jones does not fit the mold of what Pete Carroll has ever targeted in a cornerback physically. John Schneider has never once drafted a cornerback with sub-32” arms and the same goes for the guys added after the draft and in free agency. Jones measured in with 31.5” arms at the NFL combine. They also seem to go for guys with a 35” vertical, and Jones came in at 33.5”. All of which would be to say that even if you consider a half-inch of arm length and 1.5” of a vertical leap to be too small to matter (history disagrees with you on arm length, but okay), you’re still making exceptions for a player who possibly won’t be playing next season. And one who might then need 2018 to act as his “rookie year of growth” meaning that 2019, the third year of a four-year contract, to be when he really starts to contribute in a meaningful way.
If you’re wondering if Jones is now draftable to the Seahawks, I would say yes. If you’re wondering if that means it’s more likely that they would draft him, I would say no. The chances of Seattle taking him before Saturday’s incident were zero because he was going to be gone before 26. The chances of him going to the Seahawks after Saturday’s incident would still be zero to me because in addition to him not quite measuring up to their preferences (though that doesn’t mean he can’t be an All-Pro somewhere else), he is also not going to help them win next season in what could be a very critical season for Seattle. If you’re looking for a Huskies corner to root for with the Hawks next year, Kevin King is an excellent choice.
I wish nothing but the best for Sidney Jones and I hope that he has a speedy recovery from what is a terribly tragic incident for a great young player. Just wanted to clear up the question of how it relates to the Seahawks, because those questions are definitely out there now. For what it’s worth, there was not much of a contingent of Seattle representatives at UW’s pro day and Pete and John were not in attendance. (Possibly still working with T.J. Lang.)