There will be 11 players from in-state colleges taking part in the NFL Combine this week. Here's a quick overview of each as the week of testing and interviews and physicals begins Tuesday.
The first of wave players begins arriving Tuesday in Indianapolis for the annual NFL Combine.
Ultimately. the number of players taking part will include 11 from in-state schools, led by seven from the University of Washington, a school record (though interestingly, that’s not among the top 10 of all schools in the country and not even the most among Pac-12 schools as USC and Utah will send eight).
The Combine — which for each player is a four-day exercise in on-field workouts, measurements, psychological testing and meetings with teams — is ostensibly designed to help NFL coaches and scouts answer questions they may have about each prospect as they prepare for the draft, which this year is April 27-29.
Here is a quick look at each of the in-state players scheduled to participate at the Combine with a key question they will have to answer.
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WR John Ross, Washington: Ross, generally considered one of the top three receivers in the draft, will be a subject of fascination to see if he can truly approach the 4.25 40. If he does, that would approach the record 4.24 40 set by Chris Johnson in 2008. But while his 40 time could draw headlines, more important to the NFL may be the physical testing as teams assess the status of his knee — he missed the 2015 season due to an ACL tear — as well as a shoulder that will require surgery after the combine. “I know some people have medical concerns about John Ross,’’ Mike Mayock, a draft analyst for the NFL Network, said this week. “But as a vertical threat he’s probably the best one in this draft.’’
Safety Budda Baker Washington: For Baker, it’s all about his size. Baker, in fact, took to Twitter this week to protest that he is often listed as weighing 180, including on his official draft profile on NFL.com, saying he played this season at 192 (the weight UW listed him at this year). Even that weight could raise some questions about playing safety — one player he is often compared to, Seattle’s Earl Thomas, is also 5-10 but weighed 208 coming into the NFL. If Baker weighs in at 190 plus and runs well, that could ease some worries.
CB Sidney Jones Washington: Listed at 6-foot, 181 pounds by UW, weight and upper body strength are about the only concerns about Jones, a likely first-rounder often compared to former UW teammate Marcus Peters (who measured at 6-foot, 197 pounds at the Combine two years ago). Mayock said Monday he expects Jones to be gone by the middle part of the first round as one of the leaders of what he called “a great cornerback class.”
CB Kevin King, Washington: King, listed at 6-3, 192 by UW, King has the height teams like. But in a deep crops of cornerbacks everything will be dissected greatly about every corner available and for King, some wonder about how well he will fill out his frame and his speed, making him one player for whom the 40 will be especially critical.
DE JoJo Mathis, Washington: The physicals will be huge for Mathis, who played just six games before suffering a season-ending foot injury –- he had five sacks and was rated by Pro Football Focus as the best edge rusher in the nation when he was injured. Scouts have also questioned his overall athleticism so showing he’s healthy and can test well will be vital to move Mathis above the day three projections he currently carries.
DL Elijah Qualls, Washington: Qualls was listed at 6-1, 321 by UW last season and there’s a thought Qualls will need to drop a little weight in the NFL. Impressive testing could also help convince scouts that Qualls has the athleticism to potentially play some on the edge, as he did almost exclusively against Alabama.
TE Darrell Daniels, Washington: Daniels enters the Combine with the rep of a player who is likely to test well and likely cause scouts to take an even closer look at his college career when the conventional wisdom was that his production didn’t always match his apparent talent. But that puts the onus on Daniels to indeed test well in Indy.
WR Gabe Marks, Washington State: Despite setting a slew of records at WSU, Marks enters the Combine considered as a day three pick due in part to the stigma of being regarded as a product of the Mike Leach system. Scouts also wonder about Marks’ speed, so his 40 time will be critical.
Safety Shalom Luani, Washington State: Luani is also considered likely a day three pick in what is an especially good year for defensive backs so some good testing in Indy could help him break out of the pack a little bit.
WR Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington: Kupp’s stock has only continued to rise early on in the draft process with the main questions revolving around the level of competition at the FCS level. Kupp’s defense can be found in his stats in four games against UW, WSU, Oregon and Oregon State while at Eastern when he caught a combined 40 passes for 716 yards and 11 touchdowns.
WR Kendrick Bourne, Eastern Washington: Even while working in the shadows of Kupp Bourne put up huge numbers with the Eagles, and his height — 6-3 — is intriguing. Some, though, question Bourne’s speed. As NFL.com wrote, Bourne will need to run better than a 4.6 40 to ease those concerns.