NFL draft profile: No. 45 – Washington CB Sidney Jones, suddenly facing long rehab

Washington CB Sidney Jones
6-foot, 186 pounds

Key stat: Jones intercepted nine passes the past three seasons, starting all but one game over that stretch for the Huskies. He did not allow the receivers he covered to catch a touchdown pass in the entire 2016 season.

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Washington CB Sidney Jones has starting-caliber skills but suddenly faces a long injury rehab. (AP)
Washington CB Sidney Jones has starting-caliber skills but suddenly faces a long injury rehab. (AP)

The skinny: Underclassman has starred on a talented defense that came together in 2016. Jones followed up a strong sophomore season in 2015 with a Pac-12 best 14 passes defended, four interceptions and three forced fumbles with a three-pick junior year in 2016, being named first team all-conference both seasons. He then declared for the draft, as expected, after receiving a strong evaluation from the underclassman advisory board.

As Shutdown Corner first reported, Jones suffered a torn Achilles tendon at the Washington pro day — on what was the final defensive back rep of the day, adding insult to injury — on Saturday, which could cause him to miss significant time and perhaps all of his rookie season in the NFL, depending on the severity of the injury.

Best-suited destination: The injury complicates things. Scheme-wise, Jones would be a great fit in a press-man system, but he also fared well when the Huskies went zone. That certainly fits with what a lot of physical NFL systems call on their DBs to do. But it might require a patient team, perhaps one with extra draft picks, to take Jones knowing that a lengthy recovery period (a minimum of six months, but up to 12) awaits. Given that, Jones could be an option for teams such as the Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys.

Upside: Jones seldom was tested the past two seasons, but when he was he had a knack for knocking passes away, if not intercepting them. He finds a way to jam receivers off the line (despite shorter arms) and can flip his hips with ease and carry them downfield. Jones is often seen running routes for receivers (see Washington State, Colorado games) and beating them to their spot. That’s either great film study, superb anticipation skills or both. He shows positional savvy and uses sideline/end line to cut off receivers’ routes and limit their options. Doesn’t back down from challenges and wants to take on more physically gifted receivers.

Downside: Despite batting down a lot of passes in college, evaluators feel he dropped some potential interceptions. Jones is a gambler and will get handsy; his reputation allowed him some free non-calls in college that could go against him in the NFL. A lean build is worrisome, as he might never play at 190 pounds or more. Big receivers are able to post him up and catch passes in front of Jones, and his play strength (especially on tackling) needs to get better. His combine testing numbers were surprisingly average and below average, and his on-field positional work was some of the sloppiest and least-refined in his DB group, per one observer. He looked stiff and unsure of himself. But the injury, which severely alters Jones’ rookie timeline, is the biggest worry now.

Scouting hot take: “Did you see his [combine] drills? He didn’t look good in his backpedal and struggled [in the “W” drill]. Dropping passes, left and right. Not sure if he was nervous, or what. That’s not the guy our [scouts] saw before that.” — DB coach, prior to the pro day injury

Player comp: Dre Kirkpatrick, whose career started slowly but took off in 2016. One respected evaluator also likened him to a taller, leaner Malcolm Butler.

Expected draft range: The Achilles injury is a major detriment and will move Jones’ name to some teams’ “sub” draft boards. Those seeking immediate help might no longer be willing to draft him. He could go late in Day 3 or early in Day 4, but the picture on him is unclear until well into April when better information emerges on his recovery time.

Previous profiles

Nos. 51-100: Here’s who just missed the cut
No. 50: Indiana OG-C Dan Feeney
No. 49: Iowa DB Desmond King
No. 48: Vanderbilt LB Zach Cunningham
No. 47: Wisconsin pass rusher T.J. Watt
No. 46. Alabama pass rusher Tim Williams

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!