INDIANAPOLIS — John Ross told us it was going to happen. Teammate Budda Baker did too. And then Ross lined up on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium and did the unthinkable by running a 4.22 official time in the 40-yard dash, setting a new NFL combine record.
Officially the fastest 40-yard dash... EVER. 4.22. Congratulations, @WatchJRoss! #NFLCombine https://t.co/nlos6YyKM83/4/2017, 6:48:38 PM
Who is the man everyone in the NFL is talking about right now?
“A clean Tyreek Hill” is how one NFL wide receiver coach put it.
Meet John Ross. A wide receiver destined for the first round with his blazing-fast speed.
Ross was a Scout 4-star recruit coming out of Long Beach, California, and committed to play wideout for the Huskies. He got off to a solid start in 2013 and began working his way into the lineup as an up-and-comer at the receiver position and as a return man. During the 2014 season, while Ross was a backup receiver, he actually started at cornerback for four games after Marcus Peters was removed from the team. That kind of athleticism and versatility was turning heads before he was draft eligible.
The 2015 season was supposed to be Ross’ coming-out party, but a torn ACL in spring practice had him redshirting for that year. Known for his game-changing ability with the ball in his hands, Ross was primed for a huge season in Chris Petersen’s offense if he could stay healthy in 2016.
NFL Free Agency 2017: Where Will Former Vikings RB Adrian Peterson Land?
Insider Buzz: Glennon Offered Top Backup QB Money by Bucs, CHI & NYJ Interested
Insider Buzz: Raiders Will Wait to See Murray's Market Before Targeting Peterson
Insider Buzz: JPP Not Expected to Agree to Long-Term Deal, NYG Could Draft DE
Rumor Alert: Titans Most Likely to Trade for Saints WR Brandin Cooks?
Rumor Alert: Philadelphia Eagles Will Evaluate Signing RB Jamaal Charles?
NFL Free Agency 2017: Where Will Tony Romo Land If Cut by Dallas Cowboys?
Matt Miller's Rapid-Fire Predictions for 2017 NFL Combine
Insider Buzz: Kirk Cousins Open to Being Traded to Cleveland Browns
Insider Buzz: Adrian Peterson, Vikings to Determine Future at NFL Combine
Meet the Biggest Sleeper DB Ready to Tear Up the NFL Combine
Insider Buzz: Cutler Won't Accept Any Trade by Bears, Could Threaten to Retire
Insider Buzz: NFL Won't Rush to Interfere in Revis, Jets Contract Situation
Top Landing Spots for Tony Romo If Released or Traded by Dallas Cowboys
Top Landing Spots for Former New York Giants WR Victor Cruz
Insider Buzz: Redskins Interested in Tony Romo; Could Trade Kirk Cousins
Meet the Explosive Playmaker That Is Set to Destroy the NFL Combine
Insider Buzz: Jets Can Get Out of Revis Contract Due to Incident in Pittsburgh
Insider Buzz: Jets Can Get Out of Revis Contract Due to Incident in Pittsburgh
Insider Buzz: QB Mitch Trubisky Is a 'Lock for the Top 5' in 2017 NFL Draft
Insider Buzz: Salary Cap Increase Could Lead to Uptick in Franchise Tag Use
Tim Tebow Gave 75,000 Kids with Special Needs a Night They'll Never Forget
Insider Buzz: Tony Romo Could Retire from NFL to Pursue TV Career
Insider Buzz: Aldon Smith Reinstatement in Jeopardy with Latest Controversy
Insider Buzz: 49ers Open to Keeping Kaepernick but Not at Current Salary
Top Options for Denver Broncos' Draft Pick
History Will Never Forget New England Patriots 5th Championship in Super Bowl LI
Simms: Blame Falcons' Conservative D, Not Aggressive Offense, for SB LI Collapse
A7FL No-Pads, Full-Contact Football League Claims It's Safer Than the NFL
Gridiron Heights: Patriots Win Super Bowl LI
NFL Comeback Player of the Year Jordy Nelson
Top 5 NFL Interception Leaders of 2016
Insider Buzz: Rams Could Let Trumaine Johnson Walk in Free Agency
Insider Buzz: NFL Being Urged to Decrease TNF Games; Goodell Not Budging
Insider Buzz: Las Vegas Deal Dead, but Raiders Haven't Contacted City of Oakland
Insider Buzz: Belichick Could Pull Out Old Trick to Slow Down Julio Jones in SB
Tale of the Tape: Do Patriots or Falcons Have Advantage in Super Bowl LI?
NFL Award Predictions: Who Will Take Home Hardware at 'Honors' Ceremony?
Why Dion Lewis Will Be Patriots Good Luck Charm in Super Bowl LI
Which Group of Road Graders Will Win Offensive Line of the Year at NFL Honors?
Deflategate to Lady Gaga: Prop Bets That Will Keep You Hooked on Super Bowl LI
Insider Buzz: Patriots Will Move Fast on Garoppolo Trade This Offseason
Insider Buzz: Romo Wants to Face Cowboys in 2017 Season
Can Super Bowl LI Patriots Cement Legacy as Top Team of New England Dynasty Era?
Fake Brady Makes Appearance at Super Bowl 51 Media Day
Insider Buzz: John Elway, Rich McKay Endorsed John Lynch for 49ers GM Job
Insider Buzz: Raiders to Vegas Hits a Snag, Lease Proposal Seen as 'Insulting'
Why One of College Football's Worst Teams Will Be a Winner in Super Bowl LI
Atlanta Falcons X-Factors to Disrupt Patriots Offense in Super Bowl LI
Insider Buzz: 'Unconventional' John Lynch Hire Won't Impact Shanahan to 49ers
Insider Buzz: Teams Take 'Precautions' Before Facing Patriots, Shred Game Plans
NCAA Lacrosse to Super Bowl LI: Patriots WR Chris Hogan's Rise to the Top
Simms in 60: Falcons and Patriots Have Most Creative Offenses, Take Notice NFL
Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa Is Much More Than "The Next Marcus Mariota"
Who Had the Best Attendance in the NFL in 2016?
Meet the Small School Prospect Who's Draft Stock Skyrocketed at 2017 Senior Bowl
Insider Buzz: Former Bills Coaches Angry at 'Lazy' Dareus' Criticism of Rex Ryan
Insider Buzz: Spanos Denies Wanting to Move Chargers Back to SD, Won't Sell Team
Insider Buzz: Outgoing Rams Coaching Staff Blames Todd Gurley's Struggles on Him
From College Lacrosse to Super Bowl 51: Chris Hogan's Journey
Insider Buzz: Stanford's Solomon Thomas Looking Like Top-10 Talent
Jackson vs. Garcon: Redskins Are Facing Difficult 2017 Free Agent Decision
Simms' Hidden Truth: Falcons Use of Julio Jones Too Dynamic for NE to Shut Down
Insider Buzz: Chiefs' Chris Ballard Emerging as Favorite for Colts' GM Job
Insider Buzz: 3 Teams Eyeing Free Agent DeSean Jackson If Let Go by Washington
Simms' Hidden Truth: X-Factors for Patriots to Slow Down Explosive Falcons in SB
Insider Buzz: Collins Deal Will Be Baseline for Patriots to Ink Dont'a Hightower
Insider Buzz: Raiders Hope Carr Contract Won't Reset QB Market, No Rush on Deal
Gridiron Heights Episode 20: Roger Goodell Hosts the Griddies
How Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the Patriots Rewrote the History Books
Chris Hogan Lived Up to His "7/11" Nickname in Patriots AFC Title Victory
Insider Buzz: CLE & SF Both Landing Spots for Kirk Cousins in Offseason
Simms in 60: Brady's Brilliance Has Made NE Unstoppable Force Heading into SB51
AFC CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW: TOM BRADY POISED TO MAKE HISTORY WITH PATRIOTS WIN
The Key Player in the AFC Championship Game
Tom Brady Poised to Make History with Victory Over Pittsburgh Steelers
Insider Buzz: Shanahan May Cede Control of Roster to GM; 2 Lead Candidates Emerge
Insider Buzz: Raiders Face Hurdles in Vegas Move; Owners Want Them in Oakland
New England Patriots Have NFL's Ultimate Postseason Home-Field Advantage
Can Home-Field Advantage Help Falcons Close Georgia Dome with NFC Championship?
Simms' Hidden Truth: NE Can Slow Creative PIT Defense with Only 2 WRs on Field
Simms' Hidden Truth: PIT Must Unleash Top Pass-Rushers on NE's Interior Linemen
Insider Buzz: 49ers Expected to Target Kirk Cousins If Shanahan Named Head Coach
Insider Buzz: Packers in Danger of Missing 3 WRs in NFC Championship Game
Simms' Hidden Truth: Seahawks' Simple, Predictable Defense Must Evolve in 2017
Simms' Hidden Truth: Meet Falcons' Secret Stars Crucial to Slowing Aaron Rodgers
Insider Buzz: Kaepernick Era Will End with 49ers; Does Not Fit Shanahan's Offense
Insider Buzz: Kyle Shanahan Expected to Be 49ers' Next HC; Will Pick GM
Expect High-Scoring Showdown in Packers vs. Falcons NFC Title Game
Insider Buzz: McDaniels Could Wait on DET or TEN Jobs to Open Next Offseason
'Fame Can Change Things’: The Story Behind Aaron Rodgers' Family Feud
How Bell, Brown Have Shattered Records on Steelers Historic Playoff Run
Week 19 Episode of Gridiron Heights
Insider Buzz: Colts' Future Unclear After Irsay Meeting with Gruden and Manning
Miller in 60: Shanahan's Brilliant Game Plan Makes ATL Super Bowl Contender
Redemption or Repeat? Breaking Down the 4 Rematches of NFL Divisional Round
Gary Kubiak's Abrupt Departure Suddenly Makes Sense
NFL Draft Live Insider Buzz: Jon Allen and Dalvin Cook Could Slide in NFL Draft
Simms' Hidden Truth: Seahawks Must Dominate in Trenches for Shot at Beating ATL
In his final year of college, Ross became one of the best players in the nation. His explosive yards-after-catch ability and skills as a deep threat were a perfect match for quarterback Jake Browning. The two connected on 81 passes for 1,150 yards and 17 touchdowns in an offense designed to give Ross room to run. Once he has that, he’s gone.
Heading into the combine, scouts were concerned about Ross’ ability to stay healthy. He had injuries to both knees in college and is currently awaiting surgery on a labrum tear suffered late in the season. But as one scout texted me Saturday, "If Ross can run that fast with a torn labrum and cramps, imagine how fast he is when someone is chasing him." That same scout’s team clocked Ross at 4.16 seconds using a handheld timer during his 40 run.
Teams will be lining up to see Ross at the Washington pro day on March 11. There, Ross will be tested on his route tree and ability to track the ball down the field in conditions not as favorable as in Indianapolis.
One thing is for certain, though: Ross will be a first-round pick in April as long as he checks out medically. He’ll have shoulder surgery on March 14 and should be ready for summer minicamps with a normal rehab time. That’s all NFL wide receiver and special teams coaches need to hear to know they can plug Ross into their schemes.
The NFL coach compared Ross to Tyreek Hill, and while that’s a fun comparison, he isn’t limited to special teams or being just a gadget player. Ross is a legit route-runner and has a much more dynamic ability to leave defenders in the dust with his breaks and cuts. Hill is arguably more powerful as a runner, but Ross is the more complete player. He’s perhaps a mix of Hill’s speed and DeSean Jackson’s route-running skills.
That’s a pretty dangerous combo.
With so little top-tier talent in the 2017 wide receiver class—only Ross, Mike Williams of Clemson and Western Michigan's Corey Davis are in my first-round rankings—this creates a considerable amount of buzz for the Huskies star.
Ross, according to one scout I spoke with after the receiver's 40, could go ahead of Williams due to concerns about the Clemson man's deep speed and separation. It will vary team by team due to offensive system and needs, but Ross is already thought of as a better receiver than any player drafted in the 2016 first round by one scout I spoke with.
When he stepped off the plane in Indianapolis, Ross had to know he had a chance at the record in the 40. To do so with that pressure on him and a bum shoulder? That's one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen at the NFL Scouting Combine.