During a recent workout at Kansas City Chiefs' Organized Team Activities, Justyn Ross was running full speed to the sideline and nonchalantly threw out his left hand, snagging a pass below his waist by seemingly using just a few fingers to secure the ball.
It's not just the catch by Ross, a former Clemson receiver, that stood out to Chiefs starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes. It's how Ross handled making such a highlight play.
The former Clemson star who helped the Tigers win a national title as a freshman in 2018 surprisingly wasn't selected in last month's NFL draft, instead of signing a free-agent deal with the Chiefs. And he's already impressed the most important player on the team. Ross is making an early claim for a roster spot.
"You still see the talent. I think that’s the first thing,” Mahomes said to NFL reporters during a press conference Thursday. “I know people saw the catch on Twitter, but it’s just the way he catches the football out of the air. He snatches it. There are no drops or anything like that."
Talent has never been a problem. Ross went undrafted because of a congenital spine issue that required surgery in the summer of 2020. He sat out the entire season and wasn't cleared for football until August of 2021.
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Behind a struggling passing attack at Clemson, his production fell off and a stress fracture ended his season early last fall. But he still felt ready physically and mentally for the NFL so he entered the draft with eligibility at Clemson remaining.
Still, Ross finished with 2,379 receiving yards on 158 receptions and 20 touchdowns in his three-year Clemson career. His best season came in his first when he led the team with 1,000 yards on 46 catches.
No NFL teams felt his risky health was worth drafting and only a handful had doctors sign off on Ross. After weighing his options, Ross found a home with the Chiefs, one of the league's best scoring attacks.
"Now it’s about him learning the NFL offense,".Mahomes, a Super Bowl champion and 2018 NFL MVP, said. "That’s how it is for every rookie when they come in, is, you don’t see that top talent that they can be until they learn and they can just play fast. And I think you’ve seen that. You’ve seen those flashes of how talented he can be. And then you’ve seen times where he’s just barely off of what we wanted. And he learns from that, he doesn’t make that same mistake.
“The more and more reps that he gets, I can only imagine how good he’s going to be because of the talent he possesses.”
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