*WR grades can and will change as more information comes in from Pro Day workouts, Wonderlic test results leaked, etc. We will update ratings as new info becomes available.

*WR-B stands for "Big-WR," a classification we use to separate the more physical, downfield/over-the-top, heavy-red-zone-threat-type WRs. Our WR-S/"Small-WRs" are profiled by our computer more as slot and/or possession-type WRs who are less typically physical and rely more on speed/agility to operate underneath the defense and/or use big speed to get open deep...they are not used as weapons in the red zone as much. 

 

What is the value of a really fast wide receiver in the NFL?

It has a value, for sure. But how valuable is it?

You might ask about the other attributes of said speedy receiver. What if I said this receiver is not physically tough (as a receiver) and has decent-not-great hands and is 4.2–4.3 'speedy'? Which is how I would describe John Ross. What is that kind of receiver worth to you? What current/recent NFL WRs come to mind?

The last two drafts had college-productive, 4.3- running, first round picks – Will Fuller and Phillip Dorsett. Have either of them really mattered? What do teams do with them in the NFL? Typically, they use them as decoys – send them deep to pull away a safety and throw the ball somewhere else. Occasionally, the ball is fired downfield for a deep-ball score…but that's a little rare in the NFL. Mostly, you get John Brown or Mike Wallace or DeSean Jackson performances…one, maybe two, breakout seasons, some 'moments' in other seasons…but nothing radical – and forking over a lot of money for 4–6 really cool, long TDs per typical season.

Whatever that's worth to you…is what John Ross is worth to you.

Actually, Ross is probably worth less. The injuries matter towards the value: 2014 torn meniscus in left knee. 2015 blew out his ACL on the right knee. 2017 torn labrum surgery.

But Ross is really, really fast.

I mean, you saw the record-breaking 4.22, right? The one where he tracked slower than Chris Johnson's side-by-side video comparison…but still came in as 'faster' at the Combine anyway? I mention that petty item because if Ross didn’t break the Combine record I think his current draft buzz would be cut in half. No doubt – he's fast. Setting the record makes him become more myth than reality. It deflects away from noticing the recent trend that these types of smaller, speedy receivers are useful/valuable, but not that valuable…and it ignores the massive red flag injury history for Ross – for those projecting him as a first-round pick.

The more I watch Ross on tape, I don’t see a 4.22 guy at all. I mean, I know he is fast, but he doesn't play with speed that catches my attention. He could be so smooth it evades me. I could be so biased I can’t see it. But honestly, his tape does nothing for me. All I see is a pretty fast guy beating college DBs for medium and long TD strikes. I'd add – I see Ross get caught from behind way too often for a 4.22 runner. I also see he is brought down easily upon any contact (he hesitates into contact often) and has difficulty making catches under duress. He looks great three steps ahead of a DB for an untouched TD, and there's a value in that, but those types of plays don’t happen that often in the NFL.

With John Ross, you are getting 'really fast' with mediocre hands, a frail frame, and a history of injury. You can use him deep, but not so much middle of the field or running bubble screens (for fear of injury). Most NFL teams will try to use him as a deep ball guy, a return man, and an occasional runner of the ball. In this era, in the NFL, that won't be a lot of touches/output normally (4–6 targets, 0–2 returns, 0–1 carries per game?)…with the risk on him of getting hurt so easily. Do you want him on your team as a weapon to deploy in situations? Sure…I guess. Do you want to spend a top 50 pick on it? I wouldn’t. Too much downside for the price for me. I'm sure he'll have a good year, surrounded by many mediocre seasons like a Mike Wallace or DeSean Jackson…and I don’t think Ross is as good as DJax or Wallace when they are/were at their best. Ross is good, and he has value, but I don’t think it's as much as early projections.

 


John Ross, Through the Lens of Our WR Scouting Algorithm:


John Ross scored an impressive 17 TDs in 2016, slightly less impressive under the microscope of Washington throwing for 47 TDs last season. 36% of the team's TD catches is solid but not anything amazing.

In Ross's five toughest games/defenses faced in the 2016 season, against Stanford, USC, Utah, Colorado (top DB prospects), and Alabama, Ross averaged 5.0 catches for 72.6 yards and 1.0 TDs per game…not bad. If you ignore his 70-yard TD catch against USC where a defender slipped and fell and gave him an easy score – 4.8 catches for 58.6 yards and 0.8 TDs per game…which is OK but not 4.22-runner amazing I just never felt like I was watching a dominant wide receiver for the next level when watching Ross at work.

 



NFL Combine data…

5′10.6″/188, 8.75″ hands, 31.5″ arms

4.22 40-time, 1.44 10-yard (un), DNP agility drills

37″ vertical, 11′1″ broad jump, DNP bench press (labrum surgery scheduled after the Combine)

 

Ross's college stats on CFB Reference:  http://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/players/john-ross-1.html

 


The Historical WR Prospects to Whom John Ross Most Compares Within Our System:


Santana Moss had a long, steady, mostly boring career…he had 1–2 really good seasons and several OK/nice seasons. All these speedsters listed here had moments, but they never seemed to sustain it. I would take most of these receiver comp names ahead of Ross, back in their draft days.

Two guys who were close but not close enough as a final comp for Ross – Brandin Cooks and Tyreek Hill. To me, John Ross is nothing like Hill or Cooks. Ross is not a full-route-tree receiver or in possession of jaw-dropping speed you can see on tape. Brandin Cooks was dominant. Tyreek Hill's NFL debut was amazing. Ross's tape never made think any of those things.

 

WR Score

Draft Yr

Last

First

College

H

H

W

Power Strngth Metric

Speed Agility Metric

Hands' Metric

7.490

2017

Ross

John

Washington

5

10.6

188

5.23

16.65

7.88

7.952

2001

Moss

Santana

Miami, Fla

5

10.0

181

7.23

16.36

7.72

4.529

2010

Ford

Jacoby

Clemson

5

9.0

186

6.53

16.32

7.32

6.212

2016

Fuller

Will

Notre Dame

6

0.1

186

4.00

13.64

6.97

4.209

2009

Knox

Johnny

Ab. Christian

5

11.4

185

5.02

13.93

6.47

6.289

2005

Mathis

Jerome

Hampton

5

11.2

181

4.06

18.79

8.78

8.861

2009

Wallace

Mike

Mississippi

6

0.3

199

9.33

13.42

6.44


*A score of 7.0+ is where we start to take a Small-WR prospect more seriously. A score of 8.50+ is where we see a stronger correlation of a Small-WR going on to become NFL good/great/elite. A score of 10.00+ is more rarefied air in our system and indicates a greater probability of becoming an elite NFL Small-WR.

All of the WR ratings are based on a 0–10 scale, but a player can score negative, or above a 10.0 in certain instances.

Overall WR score = A combination of several on-field performance measures, including refinement for strength of opponents faced. Mixed with all the physical measurement metrics, rated historically in our database.

“Power-Strength” = A combination of unique metrics surrounding physical-size profiling, bench press strength, etc.  High scorers here project to be more physical, better blockers, and less injury-prone.

“Speed-Agility” = A combination of unique metrics surrounding speed, agility, physical size, mixed with some on-field performance metrics. High scorers here project to have a better YAC and show characteristics to be used as deep threats/create separation.

“Hands” = A combination of unique metrics surrounding on-field performance in college, considering the strength of opponents played. Furthermore, this data considers some physical profiling for hand size, etc. High scorers here have a better track record of college statistical performance, and overall this will help project the combination of performance and physical data for the next level.

2017 NFL Draft Outlook:

Most draft projections have Ross in the first round, so I'll assume the combination of 4.22 speed + the media push + the history of the NFL never learning and taking these guys first round (Fuller and Dorsett last two seasons)…it will all = Ross in the first round.

Al Davis may come out of the grave and make this pick.



NFL Outlook:   

A few fancy moments, but aside from a good season…is mostly a piece of the puzzle, not a key piece of the puzzle. Has something to offer the NFL but not stardom.






3/17/2017