Steelers NFL Draft Watch: Washington Defensive Backs

Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports
Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports /

The Washington Huskies have been churning out early-round NFL Draft picks in recent years. With a talented trio of defensive backs eligible for the 2017 NFL Draft, could the Steelers turn to the Pacific Northwest for defensive help?

In recent years the University of Washington has slowly developed into one of College Football’s premier programs, ascending all the way to #14 in the initial AP rankings for 2016. Once again the Huskies have plenty of NFL talent on their roster, especially in the defensive secondary. Could the Steelers turn back to Washington after selecting Travis Feeney in the 2016 NFL Draft for additional defensive help? Let’s check out 3 intriguing defensive backs whom the Steelers could potentially have interest in.

S Budda Baker, Washington

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

The Steelers may not have interest in drafting a safety with Mike Mitchell and 2016 2nd-rounder Sean Davis on the roster. However, if the Steelers are looking to add playmakers in the defensive backfield, Washington’s Budda Baker could be their man.


Bishard “Budda” Baker is a versatile and dynamic playmaker in the Huskies’s secondary. Baker’s game consists of an ideal blend of physicality, instincts, and natural athleticism.

Baker has drawn comparisons to NFL playmakers Tyrann Mathieu and Earl Thomas due to their similar small-stature and physicality. In a compact, 5’10” 192 lbs frame, Baker is a hard hitter who plays the game with an aggressive mentality. Baker is as reliable as a tackler in the secondary as they come. He consistently squares his pads up to his target on contact and hits ball carriers between the numbers.

Perhaps what is most impressive about Baker’s game is the amount of ground he covers on every play. From both coverage and in run support, Baker uses his athleticism and aggression to fly all over the field and make plays. He is always around the ball, and he will come running in from nowhere on tape and blow up plays.

In coverage, Baker uses his fantastic instincts and read and react abilities to break on the ball and disrupt passes. He blends his quickness and instincts with his exceptional physicality to torment wide receivers at the catch point.

With the ability to suit up both as a rangy centerfielder at the safety position and as a physical slot corner in press coverage, Baker could play a variety of roles in Keith Butler’s defense.


The first concern with Baker’s game that you will hear from everyone is his less than ideal size. However, Baker plays like he is the biggest man on the field, so I am not overly concerned with his size limitations. However, Baker could stand to add strength as he is not as effective at shedding blockers near the line of scrimmage as he is against tight ends and receivers. This is something that could easily be fixed by an offseason or two in an NFL weight room.

What I am more concerned about is Baker learning to control his aggressiveness. While his high motor and reckless style of play is what makes Baker so special, it also leads to occasional mistakes. At moments his aggression will get the best of him and Baker will take poor angles in coverage. On his sophomore year tape there were occasions where Baker allowed receivers to get behind him when he was the last line of defense. Especially as a safety Baker needs to learn to prevent the big play.


While his exact role in Pittsburgh’s defense could be hard to determine, I would love for the Steelers to add a dynamic playmaker like Budda Baker. In my opinion the biggest issue with the Steeler’s secondary is its lack of playmakers and reliable tacklers. Baker could potentially help fix both of those issues. The Steelers would be wise to continue their infusion of young talent into the defensive secondary and build for the future with Artie Burns, Sean Davis, Senquez Golson, and a playmaker like Budda Baker.

CB Sidney Jones IV, Washington

Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports
Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports /

Next up is Sidney Jones, one of College Football’s most talented cover corners. After adding Miami CB Artie Burns in the first round this past year, could the Steelers spend another early round selection on the cornerback position?


Similar to Iowa CB Desmond King, whom I highlighted in an earlier Steeler Draft Watch article, Sidney Jones excels in run support. Jones plays with plenty of physicality in run support with an attacking downhill style of play. Additionally, Jones has shown the ability to force fumbles and knock the ball loose on occasion, with 3 forced fumbles in 2015.

In coverage, Jones is one of the most technically sound corners in College Football. Jones has experience working in press, off-man, and zone coverage and he excels at all of them. With a fantastic blend of athleticism and technique, Jones is always glued to his target and rides the WR’s hip pocket. Then, Jones flashes solid ball skills to make a play on the ball, and either come down with the interception or break up the pass. With 4 interceptions and 14 pass breakups in 2015 Jones has more than proven his ability to make a play while the ball is in the air.

Jones also plays with a high level of instincts and anticipation. He is adept at reading the quarterback’s eyes and jumping routes.


There are not too many glaring holes in Jones’s game. The only notable weakness I saw on his tape are lapses in overall consistency. On occasion, Jones will fail to set the edge in the run game or have difficulty shedding blocks near the line of scrimmage. However, all prospects no matter how solid have bad reps on tape.

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Honestly Jones is one of the more NFL ready corners in College Football. He is solid in run support, technically sound, and flashes great ball skills. I just turned his weaknesses section into additional praise of his game. That should tell you something about the type of prospect Sidney Jones is.


Sidney Jones’s fit in Pittsburgh is very easy to predict, let him take an outside corner position and cover the opposing team’s WR1. In a division that features A.J. Green, Steve Smith, and young wideouts like Corey Coleman and Tyler Boyd, Sidney Jones would be a welcoming addition to the Steelers defense.

CB/S Kevin King, Washington

Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports
Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports /

Another member of the secondary gold mine that exists in Washington, Kevin King, is next up on our Steeler Draft Watch. With experience at both corner and safety, King could be an potential option for the Steelers.


At 6’3″ 190 lbs, Kevin King has prototypical size for a modern-day NFL corner. King has the length to dominate and overwhelm WRs at the catch point, and he compliments his length with impressive ball skills.

King also has flashed the ability to contribute in run support. With his ideal size, King can corral ball carriers with his long arms. While he is not the most reliable tackler, the upside is certainly there.

Additionally, King is a rare athlete in terms of athleticism and quickness. He has the speed to run with receivers step for step down the field and the fluidity to flip his hips and change directions in coverage. In terms of quickness, King has some of the best change of direction abilities out of all of the corners in College Football, with a reported 3-cone time of 6.40 seconds.


While King’s potential is sky high, he is very raw as a prospect. King needs to work on his overall technique in coverage. However, King is such a special athlete and with NFL coaching he has the potential to be a lockdown cornerback.

As a tackler, King is erratic in his consistency. King will miss high on many tackle attempts, and he also fails to engage his body at times with weak arm tackle attempts. While King will have to work on cutting down on his missed tackles, he flashes the ability to lay some hard hits and make plays in run support


Selecting a raw, high potential DB like Kevin King in the 2017 NFL Draft would be reminiscent of the Steeler’s selection of Artie Burns. King would probably best fit as an outside corner in Pittsburgh, and his terrific height at the cornerback position would be a welcoming addition to the Steeler’s defense.

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With a fantastic duo of corners in Sidney Jones and Kevin King, and a playmaking safety in Budda Baker, Washington may have College Football’s best secondary. Make sure to watch this trio of athletes this year, for the Steelers are likely to be interested in all three in the 2017 NFL Draft.