John Ross is extremely fast. After clocking a 4.22 40 time during the combine, Ross has the attention of all 32 NFL teams. Ross has the speed that Bengals’ wide receiver coach James Urban has been looking for. Per Geoff Hobson, Urban says that finding a speedy receiver to pair with A.J. Green is a high priority for the Bengals. After Ross’s record-breaking performance, he is sure to be in consideration for the ninth overall pick.
— John Ross III (@WatchJRoss) February 6, 2016
At 5’11 190, Ross seems to fit the size the Bengals like at slot receiver. They’ve used players with similar stature at the position like former Bengals Andrew Hawkins and Jordan Shipley. Duke Tobin likes to use the 40 time as a point of reference. Tobin watches a prospect’s film to confirm the speed he’s gathered from the 40-time to ensure it matches. If you’ve ever watched Ross on film, then you’d know that his 40-time matches his dynamic game speed.
Ross would be attractive to the Bengals for two factors: his age, college conference, and scheme. In the Marvin Lewis era, the Bengals have drafted four wide receivers out of the Pac-12 conference. The only conference with more picks by the Bengals would be the SEC with seven. At 23, Ross’s age should also check off for the Bengals. They’ve drafted a total of seven wideouts including 2011 first-round pick A.J. Green who were the age of 23. Coming from a spread formation, Ross would also be a fit scheme based off of the Bengals’ recent draft history.
Although Ross has several things in his favor, the Bengals will likely consider his sporadic production and durability issues. As a redshirt junior, Ross hauled in 81 receptions, 1,150 receiving yards and 17 receiving touchdowns. While those numbers are amazing, he only had 33 receptions, 571 receiving yards, and 5 touchdowns combined his first two seasons at Washington. Durability has also been a major issue for Ross. Ross suffered major injuries to both of his knees during his time at Washington. In 2014 during his third game, Ross tore his meniscus in his right knee on a kick return and had to have microfracture surgery to repair it. In 2015, Ross was awarded a medical redshirt year after tearing his ACL and meniscus in his left knee.
Although Ross will be in play for the ninth selection, the Bengals will have to be smart and determine the risk associated with selecting him. Duke Tobin recently weighed in on the scouting process and explained that the Bengals’ medical staff determines the severity of prospects with health issues. I believe this will play a huge role into whether or not John Ross will be the pick for the Bengals at nine. On a recent podcast, Nardo and I debated who to pick between John Ross and Mike Williams if both are on the board. The debate was so intense that I’ve decided to include a poll below. Please be sure to vote and leave your comments on whether or not the Bengals should select John Ross in the first-round.