Scout: Washington secondary loaded with NFL talent

Jennifer Buchanan/ USA TODAY Sports
Sidney Jones leads Washington with three interceptions this season.

NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein is constantly talking to NFL and college sources about players in the college game. In this space each week, Zierlein will share some of what NFL folks are discussing in their circles.

Sources Tell Us: Sept. 7 | Sept. 14 | Sept. 21 | Sept. 28 | Oct. 5 | Oct. 12 | Oct. 19 | Oct. 26 | Nov. 2 | Nov. 9 | Nov. 16 | Nov. 23


College Football 24/7 Hot Topics:

The scoop: "(Jake) Browning and (John) Ross get most of the attention around here, but Washington's secondary is what makes them one of the top four teams in the country. I would put (Kevin) King, Sidney Jones and Budda (Baker) up against any secondary in the nation. Jones is probably a first-rounder and I'm guessing Budda goes second day (Rounds 2-3), but King deserves more attention for his play as well." -- NFC regional scout on the Washington secondary

The skinny: Jones jumped out to me this summer when I was putting together my list of the top cornerbacks to watch in 2016, and his fellow CB King had several flashes as well, although I didn't include him on the list. Baker, a safety, rolls downhill with no fear and is a reliable tackler. To this scout's point, Washington has plenty of talent and its secondary is among the catalysts for the team's success this season.

* * *

The scoop: "I don't care how big he is. He's a good player. Look, he's tiny so you can't take him too early because there is a big risk in putting a skinny runner out there. You have to have an offense that makes sense for him, but everyone I talk to on the road likes the talent. The size is going to be the only concern." -- AFC West scout on San Diego State RB Donnel Pumphrey

The skinny: Pumphrey, who has a chance to become the NCAA's all-time leading rusher (ranks third with 6,180 yards; Ron Dayne is No. 1 with 6,397), has outstanding vision and the ability to make some of the sharpest cuts you will find on tape this season. Unfortunately, Pumphrey is also extremely small and thin (5-foot-9, 180 pounds, per school measurements) and some teams probably won't even consider drafting him because of it. If he can prove to be an effective matchup option out of the backfield or a viable option as a return man, Pumphrey could overcome his lack of size to become next season's version of Tyler Ervin.

* * *

The scoop: "I'm a big fan of his and (Michigan TE) Jake Butt's. I think (Jeremy) Sprinkle is a much better blocker, though, and he's got more of an NFL body type." -- NFC South scout on the Arkansas TE

The skinny: Sprinkle, a senior, is indeed the better blocker and he's also the bigger player with the frame to pack on more muscle. While Sprinkle isn't as crafty as Butt or as athletic as Alabama's O.J. Howard -- two TEs who'll also be available in the 2017 draft -- he offers enough in the passing game and running game to warrant a selection on the second day (Rounds 2-3).

Follow Lance Zierlein on Twitter @LanceZierlein.