Four underclassmen from Washington's Pac-12 championship team intend to file for early eligibility to enter the 2017 NFL Draft.
Wide receiver John Ross III, safety Budda Baker, cornerback Sidney Jones and defensive lineman Elijah Qualls intend to forgo their senior seasons, per a release by the school.
"These four players have been a big part of the progress this program has made during their time here," said UW coach Chris Petersen. "We wish them all the success in the world as they pursue their professional goals."
Ross was among the most explosive receivers in college football this season, while Baker and Jones made up half of one of college football's most talented secondaries. College underclassmen face a Jan. 16 deadline to apply for early draft eligibility.
Ross has drawn comparisons to DeSean Jackson with impressive quickness off the line of scrimmage and the speed to beat cornerbacks on deep routes. An NFC scout believes Ross is a better prospect than two 2016 first-round picks at the position -- Will Fuller and Corey Coleman -- and NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah has been impressed with Ross' overall game: speed, hands, and route-running. Ross missed all of 2015 with a knee injury, but returned this season to catch 81 passes for 1,150 yards and 17 touchdowns, which led all Power-Five conference receivers. Also a dangerous kickoff returner, he was named by College Football 24/7 as one of the game's 16 fastest players entering the season.
Baker is undersized at 5-feet-10, 192 pounds, but plays a rugged style of defense and is especially stingy as a run defender. An NFC regional scout projected Baker, who also plays special teams, as a day-two draft selection (Rounds 2-3) in November. He led the Huskies in tackles with 71 and tackles for loss with 10. He made two interceptions and broke up six passes, including two in the Huskies' 41-10 win over Colorado in the Pac-12 title game. Baker was a semifinalist this year for the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the nation's top defensive back, and was a first-team All-Pac-12 pick in each of his last two seasons. His teammates named him Washington's defensive MVP.
Jones has been outstanding in coverage as a three-year starter for the Huskies, showing an ability to play a variety of techniques, though he's small for an NFL cornerback at just 181 pounds. While that might be a concern for NFL scouts, the junior's production at the college level won't be. NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks noted early in the season that Jones had the potential to be the top cornerback prospect in the college game, and an NFC scout has projected him as a likely first-round pick. He intercepted three passes this season and broke up six.
Qualls (6-feet-1, 321 pounds) made 38 stops on the season with three sacks, and was a first-team All-Pac-12 selection.