Production notes: Only one full season as a starter. Totaled 1150 yards and 17 touchdowns. Missed 2015 with a knee injury.
Size: 5-11, 190
If you’ve been paying attention at all to the comments that GM/VP Jon Robinson and Mike Mularkey are making, you know that wide receiver is going to be a huge need this offseason. Mularkey could be heard dogging the receivers after games and practices, consistently mentioning their failures and need for improvement.
I think you saw this echoed in the move made this week to clean out the receiver’s coaches room. Both Bob Bratkowski and Jason Tucker were let go, clearing the way for a total overhaul of the receiver room.
This will be the first of several receivers that I’ll break down. I’ve got receiver down as my number two need behind cornerback, with both the outside and the slot needing to be addressed.
You’ll see four or five receivers tossed into first round consideration. Let’s start with the most unique and explosive — Washington’s John Ross.
Speed is the name of the game when it comes to Ross. Everything about his game is built off of the threat of him running by your entire secondary, which he did quite often in college. He forces teams to dedicate two defenders to him. He forces you to give him a ten yard cushion — and if you leave him one on one, he’ll roast you.
And again here. This poor defensive back gets stuck in a bad spot — stationary with Ross speeding at him. A simple cut from Ross blows the play wide open. Notice how fluid he is at speed. Then notice the adjustment and catch as the defender closes in.
He doesn’t need a cushion to beat you either. Watch below as he beats press coverage off the line with an outside release. If you jam Ross, you have to really work to reroute him. This corner didn’t and he paid the price. Notice how he eats up the safety’s angle as he streaks down the sideline. That’s an easy six points with an on target throw, which Browning delivers.
Here’s another down the field play, made off an adjustment to a ball thrown short. Watch Ross A) make the grab and B) wreck the secondary again on his way to the endzone. He’s all twitched up and can fly.
His explosion, agility and speed are super enticing and I believe will get him off the board by the end of day one. However, Ross can be neutralized by physical play. He’s not great in short areas with contact, stemming from his small, light frame.
Colorado and Alabama each took him out of the gameplan with physical play. If you let him get out in space, he’ll kill you. But keeping him bottled up with jams can be effective. His 5-11, 190 pound frame doesn’t exactly lend itself well to contact.
This is a pretty good play from the corner here, but I feel like a bigger receiver would do a better job of boxing out in this moment. Ross lets the corner get in front of the route and win the play. He has to play this ball stronger in the NFL.
Potential Titans Fit?
I’m imagining Ross playing all over the field in Terry Robiskie’s offense. I think they would line him up in the slot as well as on the outside. They could use Ross as a decoy to set up the run, then unleash him on a go route off of play-action.
With Mariota’s improvement in the deep game, his speed would be a nice addition. The Titans lack speed in a lot of places, but particularly at wide receiver. I wouldn’t blame them one bit if they opted for Ross at 18.
However, I don’t think I could pull the trigger. For this offense and this team, I’m going to want a guy that can do a little more physically. Guys like Mike Williams, Corey Davis or Juju Smith-Schuster would better fit this offense. You can always add speed later on without having to spend a premium pick.
Just judging on last year, I’m not sure Ross would cross John Robinson’s production threshold. Only one season as a starter is a concern and only limited action during his first two seasons is another. Other receivers in this range have much better numbers. It may seem pointless to us as outsiders, but Robinson clearly valued production and leadership in last season’s class.
Round Grade: Late First
Comparison: Brandin Cooks