Wide Receiver #1
Junior, 5’11 180
John Ross is an electric athlete who can make plays against anyone who tries to contain him. Ross has the gift that every scout chases. 4.3 speed. Based on the scheme he’s asked to play in, Ross should have an easier time than most adjusting to the NFL game thanks to elite speed.
· Blazing speed
· Consistent hands
· Great field awareness
· Solid body-control
· Great returner
Ross has a good feel for finding the soft-spots in the zone. This field awareness is crucial for a receiver of his stature in order to avoid punishment. Defenses rolled coverage to Ross more times than not, and he was was still able to consistently win most of his reps.
· Small frame
· Struggles against press coverage
· Doesn’t win many jump-balls
· Inconsistent route-running
· Injury history
There are some concerns with how Ross will translate at the next level. He rarely wins jump balls, by failing to attack the ball at its highest point. With NFL corners having elite closing speed, it’s fair to wonder if Ross will be able to make contested catches down the field consistently enough to warrant a first-round selection. He will also need to prove he can handle running the full NFL route tree, which he won’t be able to do until we see him on Sundays.
Ross has overcome multiple knee injuries. In 2014, he tore his right meniscus against Illinois, but played in five of his next six games. He needed micro-fracture surgery after the season. After finally getting cleared for practice the following year, Ross tore his left meniscus and ACL, ending his season. He has clearly bounced-back and proved he possesses NFL toughness. However, an injury history like this is a risk for any team to take on.
This play is an example of how Ross will find success in the NFL. Although slender and short, he’s capable of beating press coverage with quick feet. Similar to Antonio Brown, Ross wins at the line of scrimmage with sudden burst and lateral agility. If he is able to get a clean release, it’s game over for the defender.
Round Value: Late 1/Early 2
Teams and coaches are going to feel that they can clean up the technical stuff with Ross. What they can’t coach is his pure speed. Very similar to Will Fuller last year, teams just don’t let guys with this skill and ability sit in the green room very long.
NFL Comparison: Brandin Cooks
Ross will be a name that continues to build momentum throughout the draft process. He is going to light-up the combine, and could find himself in play as early as the middle of the first round. In a weak wide receiver class, it’s not unfathomable that Washington’s star player could be the first receiver off the board.