Name: John Ross
Position fit: Versatile wide receiver
Stats to know: 3.04 yards per route run last season was the 14th-highest among receivers with at least 100 targets.
What he does best:
- He has incredible game speed, can blow right by a corner even when they’re playing 10 yards off.
- Quick in and out of breaks, doesn’t set them up or give them away.
- Can beat press coverage with release speed as well as use of hands.
- Incredible footwork. Sets up a lot of double moves and fakes using his feet, has made more than a few defenders look silly this way.
- Catches with his hands, and is very strong with the ball. Dropped only six of 105 catchable passes the last two years.
- Great vision with the ball in his hands, can find open space and turn a nothing play into a big gain with his ability after the catch.
- Runs a variety of routes, doesn’t just run straight downfield every play. Has one of the best slant routes in college football.
- Great ability to track the ball in the air and adjust his route accordingly. Can catch over the shoulder without breaking stride.
- Adds an extra skill in his ability to return kicks.
- Willing blocker, will take on corner and try to seal him out of play.
- Smaller receiver that can be pushed around a bit. While he can beat press coverage, there were times where it threw him off his route.
- Doesn’t have the strength to box out corners in tight situations. Can be muscled at catch point.
- Won’t win a lot of 50/50 jump balls.
- Injury history brings some concerns. He tore his MCL in the 2014 season, then missed the entire 2015 season with a torn ACL.
Player comparison: DeSean Jackson, Washington Redskins.
This is a fairly easy comparison with both players being similar in size but still being phenomenal deep threats because of their speed. Both use that to their advantage, as corners are forced to play off them to respect that speed. And like Jackson, Ross is an electric returner on special teams.
Bottom line: If teams look past Ross’ small stature, they’ll be getting a special receiver. While his speed is obviously his biggest asset, it’s not all Ross has. He knows how to get open using his footwork and can beat press coverage off the line with both his feet and his hands. He catches the ball consistently and once it’s in his hands, there’s very few better at seeing the field and finding open space. Ross can line up all over the field and make plays. Couple all of that with his return abilities and Ross has the potential to be one of if not the most exciting receiver to come out of this draft.