2017 NFL Draft Scouting Report
Prospect: John Ross
Ht: 5'11" Wt: 190
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In a class without a complete receiver that belongs in the top 10, elite individual traits are what could lead to a specific player being the first pass-catcher taken. Ross has one of those traits with his pure speed. While rumors of him running in the 4.2's seem exaggerated, he is still usually the fastest player on the field every time he suits up. The evidence of this is the 7-10 yard cushion that he usually receives from opposing defenders. Even when matching up against fellow first-round prospect Adoree Jackson, USC took the cautious approach and kept Jackson away from the line of scrimmage for most of the game. It is that respect from opponents and his top-end speed on tape that give Ross the chance to be the first receiver selected in this draft.
There is plenty to like about him as a prospect besides how fast he can run. He also runs an advanced route-tree at Washington. Not only does he run them, but he gets good separation as well. He comes out of his stance low and drives hard on defenders. His speed allows him to eat up the cushion, and he sinks his hips well to break down. He accelerates out of his breaks and gets his head around quickly to locate the ball. He also shows an advanced knowledge of when to use little tricks like head fakes and jab steps, and when not too. In certain situations, those kind of moves can cause a defender to flip his hips, giving the receiver all the more separation when he makes his break. In others, like on a deep post route, just stemming toward the outside shoulder is enough to do the job. Ross is extremely effective at running those deep routes just using his speed to stem the route to the opposing shoulder of where the route is going. When the defender flips his hips, he uses a subtle break in the opposite way to keep at full speed, creating a footrace deep. When the route comes down to a footrace, Ross has already won. At that point, an accurate pass is the only thing needed to result in a big play. Ross' awareness of when he needs to create more separation and when he is already in good position to win is another very good skill of his.
There are still some areas he could show improvement as a player, though. First of all, he does occasionally snatch the ball by extending his hands to it, but it's a rarity. More often, he lets the ball get to his body and doesn't appear to be confident in his hands. His hands could prove to be on of average size which could be the result of his lack of confidence catching the ball away from his frame. Still, there are scenarios where he has to do so and has no trouble plucking the ball out of the air. He is also a bit of a one-trick pony in the open field. What I mean by that is he doesn't have the hips to make people miss in space. He really is just a speed guy, and if tacklers don't get him, it is because he outran them and not because he made them miss.
He could also be more physical as a player. He has a somewhat-slender build, and I worry about the better press corners being able to get their hands on him and negate his speed. A little added bulk may help him when defenders are in his hip pocket and hand-fighting with him during his route. It could also help him win more 50-50 balls where he doesn't seem strong enough to jump through the contact and maximize his leaping ability. Washington also has a tendency to take him off the field in obvious running situations.
Despite some of those shortcomings, he is still one of the most exciting offensive players in the country to watch. His speed can result in a big play at any moment, and NFL teams covet that ability. His character is a plus, as is his work ethic, but a lengthy injury-history could damage his stock come draft day. He has suffered injuries to both knees, while one of which needed microfracture surgery to heal fully. Those are major concerns for a player who solely relies on speed to be successful. His toughness and competitiveness are not a question, and I still believe that he will end up being selected in the first round, but those injuries could prove to be a major factor in whether a team is willing to make him the first receiver drafted in this class or not.
Compares to (Current NFL Player): Emmanuel Sanders (Denver Broncos)
- Elite speed
- Advanced route-runner
- High character and work ethic
- Adds value as a kick returner or as a threat on the reverse
- Slender build
- Needs to rely on hands more often and not let the ball into his body
- Not great on the 50-50 balls
|Video Courtesy of Luke Loveless/Highlight Creator|
1)   How returning kicks taught Washington speedster John Ross to be star receiver   - SI.com |
2)   How UW's John Ross and Dante Pettis emerged as the Pac-12's most-feared receiving tandem   - SeattleTimes.com |
3)   Fastest Husky John Ross says he needs to slow down
- SeattleTimes.Com |
4)   John Ross Twitter|