The Cincinnati Bengals have 11 picks in the upcoming NFL Draft, including the ninth overall selection. Essentially, that means the draft is loaded with possibilities for the team. For that reason, it seems like a no-brainer that the team would be attending the University of Washington’s pro day to scout any of the team’s 16 participants - the most NFL talent the Huskies have produced in one draft class in years.
I see Patriots, Broncos, Dolphins, Vikings, Texans, Falcons, Rams, Lions, Eagles, Chargers and 49ers reps here at the Washington Pro Day.— Ethan Young (@NFLDrafter) March 11, 2017
Chiefs, Browns, Bears, Jaguars, Bengals, Cowboys and Jets here as well.— Ethan Young (@NFLDrafter) March 11, 2017
The star of the show was Huskies wide receiver John Ross III, who broke the 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine. Safety Budda Baker, tight end Darrell Daniels, cornerback Kevin King, edge rusher Joe Mathis, defensive tackle Elijah Qualis, cornerback Sidney Jones IV and linebacker JoJo Mathis were also big attractions while nine other players from the Huskies were not invited to the NFL Combine but were also on display in Seattle.
Ross is already the talk of the NFL world after recording a mind-blowing 4.22 40-yard dash at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine. His availability was limited Saturday due to an impending shoulder surgery, but he did take part in some drills and looked impressive in each one. He will likely be a mid-first round selection, so the Bengals would have to either trade down, or pick him up at No. 9 overall. Neither scenario seems likely, especially since the Bengals just re-signed Brandon LaFell.
However, it makes sense that any of the other combine prospects would have been very interesting to the Bengals. One player who really turned heads at the NFL Combine was King, who measured in at 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, and looked great in every important drill. He recorded a 4.43 in the 40-yard dash, a 6.56 in the three-cone drill, and a 3.89 in the 20-yard shuttle. All of those times were among the top records at the Combine.
Originally projected to be a Day 3 selection, King is now expected to be off the board in the second or third round. Despite re-signing Dre Kirkpatrick, the Bengals still have a few question marks at the cornerback position and could be intrigued by King’s impressive performance. All of the Bengals’ compensatory picks are for Day 3, but the sheer number of picks the team has after the third round (eight) may allow them to be fluid in their draft strategy and take a flier on King, if he impressed them at his pro day.
The biggest news of the day was rather unfortunate, coming from Jones, the more widely sought after of the two Washington cornerbacks. Unlike King, Jones didn’t look particularly impressive at the Combine, recording a 4.47 40-yard dash, a 7.02 3-cone drill, and a 4.28 20-yard shuttle. Not exactly numbers to write home about, but he was still expected to be a first round pick until his pro day was marred by injury.
The injury happened near the end of his workouts and has been reported as a torn Achilles, putting his 2017 season in question and his draft stock in danger. It may affect the Bengals’ draft plans, as Jones was projected to be a mid-to-late first round selection before the injury, essentially putting him out of the Bengals’ reach. But, the timing of the injury will undoubtedly affect Jones’ draft stock, potentially even allowing him to drop to the Bengals’ third round selection in a fall that could resemble that of Myles Jack in 2016. At that point, the Bengals would have a few unexpected decisions to make.