Is Washington’s John Ross III more than just a speedster who occasionally catches a football?
The NFL loves speed.
The motto of many teams, coaches, and scouts is -- to paraphrase Mickey in Rocky II is “We gotta get speed, demon speed! Speed is what we need; we need greasy, fast speed!”
There have been fast players to grace the NFL in recent years, but none since Chris Johnson, or perhaps Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson, have had the speed of Washington’s John Ross Iii. And while he might bristle a bit at being known more for his speed and less for his football acumen, since resetting the record for the 40 yard dash, it’s going to be a tough perception to change.
The New York Giants have a decidedly “small” offense, particularly at receiver and running back, but could they afford to turn down Ross’ explosive athleticism?
- Incredible speed. Re-set the NFL scouting combine 40 yard dash record, and claims he could have been faster.
- Very productive as a full-time starter. Averaged 14.2 yards per catch and a touchdown every 4.7 receptions (81 rec, 1,150yrd, 17td) in 2016.
- High effort player. Sells routes when he is a diversion, gives solid effort blocking, and fights for extra yardage even when being tackled.
- Quick feet to get a good release off the line of scrimmage.
- Can turn a defensive mistake into a game-breaking play.
- Generally adjusts well to off-target throws.
- Injury risk. Slight build and a significant injury history make whether or not he can physically handle the NFL a question.
- Small hands, and drops too many balls.
- Can get bullied by physical corners.
- Struggles in contested ball situations.
- Route running is a work in progress. Tree is limited by offense and routes are rounded.
Does He Fit With The Giants?
If Ross is available when the Giants pick, he should at least be in consideration. His offensive production in 2016 and game-breaking speed would be a shot in the arm for an offense that was forced to rely on Odell Beckham Jr. making a game-changing play for its offensive production in 2016.
While he would do nothing to improve the size and physicality of the Giants’ offense, having two athletic nightmares like Beckham and Ross on an offense would be enough to give any defensive coordinator ulcers.
However, the Giants have only just shed the mantle of “injury dynasty”, and taking a slightly built player who has already had a pair of knee surgeries and a shoulder surgery is (big) potential step backwards. Also, the Giants have always preferred big hands and lately placed an emphasis on route-running polish, neither of which Ross has.
Big Board Rankings
Big Blue View - 10th overall
CBS Sports - 19th overall
Draft Countdown - 28th overall
Draft Tek - 18th overall
It is tempting to say that players like John Ross are athletes first, and football players second -- and a common criticism. However it’s one that doesn’t really apply to Ross. He is a football player who happens to be an incredible athlete. He doesn’t simply rely on his speed and explosiveness to get open on “Go” Routes (he would probably have more success separating if he did), but instead does use his feet to get a release off the line of scrimmage and win with his routes. He also does a lot of the little things, like blocking or really trying to sell routes even when it is a running play.
The most concerning thing about Ross is his build and injury history. He can work on honing his craft as a receiver, but those concerns are beyond his control.