The unfortunate injury that befell Washington CB Sidney Jones on Saturday at the UW pro day, reportedly a torn Achilles, figures to be a costly one where the NFL draft is concerned.
The question is how costly, and the answer, according to an NFC scout, is a slip of at least one round, and as many as two rounds. Previously considered a first-round player, Jones would be looking at Round 3 if he were to fall two rounds. NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah sees a draft fall coming for Jones as well, but with a two-round slide as perhaps the best-case scenario for Jones, not the worst.
"I hate it for Sidney Jones. I think he was a lock to be a top-20 pick," Jeremiah said. "Because of depth at the position and with the injury, I'd be surprised if he went before the third round."
Despite the injury, Jones has some things working in his favor. By some accounts, he's simply the best cornerback in the draft. NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock ranked him so, and he helped validate that with a sub-4.5 40-yard dash (4.47) at the NFL Scouting Combine. He has three full seasons as a college starter for scouts to review, and at 6-feet tall, he has the size NFL clubs like at the position.
Working against him is the threat that such an injury could pose to his rookie season. It's no secret that a torn Achilles is a tricky injury requiring a lot of rehabilitation. Baltimore Ravens TE Ben Watson torn an Achilles last August, costing him the 2016 season, and was still rehabbing in late January. It also doesn't help Jones that the 2017 draft is replete with talent at the cornerback position. Previously ranked the No. 14 player in the draft by Jeremiah, Jones is out of Jeremiah's top 50 in the rankings he posted Monday.
Last year, Notre Dame LB Jaylon Smith fell from first-round projection to second-round selection due to a serious knee injury suffered in the Fiesta Bowl, although Jeremiah notes some key differences between Smith's situation and that of Jones.
"People can point to Jaylon Smith, but Smith had a higher grade and he played a different position where it's easier to mask any dropoff in athleticism," Jeremiah said.
As a player previously projected to be selected anywhere from No. 10 to No. 14 overall, the potential financial loss on Jones' rookie contract is steep. Last year's No. 10 overall pick, Ohio State's Eli Apple, signed a deal for $15.1 million. The 10th pick of the second round, Alabama's Reggie Ragland, signed for $5.8 million, while the 10th pick of the third round, Alabama's Kenyan Drake, signed for just under $3.4 million.