INDIANAPOLIS — So, John Ross may not be the new owner of his own island. Silver lining: Assuming teams are even remotely comfortable with his medical history, Ross may have locked himself into Round 1 with a dazzling, record-breaking display—before he cramped up—at Saturday’s workout.
Let’s start with the island. An Adidas promotion for this week’s combine promised a private island to the prospect who broke Chris Johnson’s record 4.24 40-yard-dash time. Ross’s official time of 4.22 did just that, but he wore Nike for his 40, which made him ineligible to win anyway, per the terms and conditions laid out by Adidas. (Afterward, when asked why he didn't run in Adidas, he said, "I can't swim that well. And I don't own a boat.")
Well, he might not swim well, but Ross can fly.
“I was gifted with speed,” Ross said earlier this week, “so I just use it best as I can.”
His burst, before and after the catch, may be his top selling point as a prospect. That wasn’t all he showed on Saturday, though. Ross also topped 11 feet on his broad jump and posted a 36.5” vertical.
Ross’s size (5’ 10”, 188 lbs.) points toward an NFL future in the slot, but his speed would be useful on the outside, too—how well he deals with physical NFL cornerbacks will determine exactly how useful. None of these details counts as a new development from Saturday’s action, because Ross showed time and again during his days at Washington how dangerous of a playmaker he can be. He should be able to produce right away as a rookie, within reason.
That is…if he’s healthy. His combine workout ended when he cramped up late in his 40 run—it’s hard to tell, but he actually looked as if he pulled up just a bit toward the end (of an unofficial 4.22!), before hobbling away from the finish line. Per the NFL Network’s Kim Jones, Ross will attempt all drills at next week’s Washington March 11 Pro Day.
Two days later, Ross will go under the knife to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder. For now, he expects to be ready for the regular season, but he stands to miss important practice time post-draft.
Ross already had medical issues in his history before news of the shoulder surgery came to light. He tore a meniscus and required microfracture surgery after the 2014 season, then tore his ACL and redshirted in 2015.
“Knees are stable,” said Ross on Friday, when asked about his combine medical checks. “Didn’t hear nothing negative back from the knees. Everything went good, as I expected.”
What happens off the field at the combine usually is more important that what happens on it, so the actual medical results will help determine Ross’s draft status. The next player who admits, during his combine presser, to a series of terrible medical exams will be the first. Some teams are bound to be more concerned with Ross’s knees and shoulder than others.
There is almost no debating the talent. Ross is a threat to burn a defense deep on any given snap, and he’s electrifying as a catch-and-run talent, as well.
He reiterated those traits Saturday, in eye-popping fashion.