Scouting Profile: Wide Receiver John Ross
John Ross, Washington
Weight: 188 lbs.
Arms: 31 1/2”
Hands: 8 3/4”
40-yard dash: 4.22 seconds
If there was one name that a casual fan would remember from the NFL Combine, it’d be John Ross, as he registered a record 4.22 second forty-yard dash. What you may not have known is that Ross was already considered to be a borderline first round talent. His forty-time cemented that for some, while others are still concerned about his biggest flaw – injuries.
Ross is without a doubt the most electric player at the wide receiver position in this draft, and will be one of the most electrifying in the NFL immediately. The issue with him has always been his injury-riddled past, as he’s dealt with multiple knee injuries, including a torn ACL in 2015, and now a torn labrum that will require him to have surgery right after the NFL Draft. The shoulder injury wasn’t expected to keep him from participating in the Combine drills, but his legs cramped up at the end of his forty-yard dash, forcing him to shut it down for the day, which raised even more questions about his durability.
But once you get past the injuries, Ross is a diamond. When you watch highlight reels of a player, you tend to develop an opinion of a player, even though that reel doesn’t show 90 percent of what he actually does. With Ross, I was more impressed watching all of his snaps than his highlights. Even when he isn’t targeted, he’s breaking ankles in his routes. There were times the opposing defense would shade a safety his way and he’d still beat them over the top, showing off his 4.22 speed. This is a part of his game that you don’t need to worry about it translating to the pros.
Another quality to Ross’ game is that he’s a wizard after the catch, and this is something that you will see on his highlight reels. It’s the reason he was used on kickoff returns, as his vision needs to be utilized as much as possible. When he comes to the NFL, it’ll be interesting to see if his new team is willing to accept the risk of injury on kickoff returns.
If there’s a downfall to Ross’ game, it’s that he’s quite small, coming in at 5’10” and 188 pounds at the Combine, which compares to Doug Baldwin and Brandin Cooks. Those two aren’t prototypical No. 1 wide receivers, but we’ve seen the both of them produce top-10 numbers from a fantasy perspective. The lone concern I have with Ross is his ability to beat press coverage at the line of scrimmage, as he played outside for a majority of the snaps that I saw. The positive is that if he can beat press coverage, there isn’t a cornerback in the league who’ll keep pace with him.
If there’s one thing that you should take from this, it’s that Ross is a pure athlete. He played cornerback in high school and at the start of his college career, just showing the versatility that he has. He ran track in high school and that speed has translated to the game of football. Just think about that, record-breaking speed. And you’ll see it soon, coming to an NFL field near you.
Potential landing spot
There are plenty of teams that can use a player like Ross, as he offers game-breaking speed downfield, and is a great route runner who can get open underneath. If Ross somehow lasts into the second round, there is no doubt in my mind that the Panthers would draft him with the 40th overall pick, but I don’t see him getting there. The team that I can see taking Ross in the first round is the Cowboys, who reportedly looked into acquiring free agent DeSean Jackson. He’d be an excellent receiver to play opposite Dez Bryant, and the Cowboys have no issue inserting a rookie into the starting lineup, which is where Ross belongs.
This should come as no surprise, but the player I’d compare him to is DeSean Jackson. They both offer tremendous speed and can get open underneath with precision route running. While Jackson doesn’t play the slot, Ross should be able to be utilized there because he offers more after the catch ability than Jackson does. He is also going to be a bit tougher to bring down than Jackson, as he’s about 15 pounds heavier, which makes his speed that much more impressive. While most have underrated Jackson and what he has done over his career, Ross has the potential to be an improved version.