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Brett Veach: Justyn Ross Will ‘Have a Shot’ to Make Chiefs’ 53-Man Roster

Veach is excited but not making any promises about KC's newest wideout.

The Kansas City Chiefs' wide receiver group saw a near-complete overhaul this offseason following the trade of Tyreek Hill. With the primary wave of free agency and the entire 2022 NFL Draft in the past, the team is tasked with moving forward and consolidating down to a 53-man roster by the end of the summer. 

With that said, Kansas City is carrying a much larger amount of players right now. In addition to rookie minicamp invites, the Chiefs have a 90-man roster filled with players who ultimately won't be making the final cut. Former Clemson WR Justyn Ross is one of the biggest names of the group, as the undrafted free agent (UDFA) signing has quite an interesting profile.

Clemson wide receiver Justyn Ross (8) warms up before the game with Clemson and Boston College in Clemson, S.C. Saturday, October 2, 2021. Ncaa Football Acc Clemson Boston College

Dating back to his best year with the Tigers, 2018, Ross exploded onto the scene as a true freshman. Over the years, though, he dealt with serious neck issues and then a foot fracture to cap off his college career. The Chiefs are undoubtedly taking a chance on a player with a serious injury history, but general manager Brett Veach is confident in his staff and if they think Ross is good to go, he doesn't bat an eye. 

"If you kind of go back to last year during the Trey Smith setup, I’ve always said that our docs are on the more conservative side," Veach said. "We’ve spent a lot of time, and I know our docs at KU (The University of Kansas Health System) spent a lot of time talking to the experts that dealt with Justyn, and he’s cleared. I think really when you take away the neck situation, and again, our docs did a great job of exhausting all of the information, I think for me it’s a little easier on how I operate."

Veach cites a combination of the aforementioned neck and foot injuries, as well as "not having time to test" adequately during the pre-draft process as reasons why Ross took such a fall in the draft. He added that Ross' camp and the Chiefs kept in contact throughout the draft and into the post-draft UDFA period. Ross ultimately chose Kansas City, and now he's tasked with fending off several other receivers to make the final roster.

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Sep 18, 2021; Clemson, South Carolina, USA; Clemson Tigers wide receiver Justyn Ross (8) prior to the game against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

The top four receivers on the Chiefs' depth chart seem about as set in stone as can be. Some order of JuJu Smith-Schuster, Mecole Hardman, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and 2022 second-round pick Skyy Moore project to be Patrick Mahomes' top four wideouts. 

Behind them, there's a cluster of names fighting for a very finite amount of spots. Josh Gordon, Daurice Fountain, Corey Coleman, Ross and others find themselves in that group, but only one or two can make it past the preseason. Veach is tempering expectations because Ross has yet to even make the team.

"As far as expectations, like a lot of these guys, whether you’re a first-round pick or second-round pick, you’ve got to come in here and learn the playbook," Veach said. "You’ve got to have confidence in the coaching staff to execute your assignments. You have to have the confidence in Pat (Mahomes) for him to trust you to execute your assignment, and if he can do that, I’d say talent-wise, as long as he stays healthy, he’ll have a shot."

Oct 15, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Clemson Tigers wide receiver Justyn Ross (8) runs with the ball past Syracuse Orange defensive back Justin Barron (23) during the second half at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Talent isn't a question with Ross. He's a 6-foot-3 receiver with a frame that translates directly to the NFL in terms of shouldering a workload or having great size for an "X" receiver. His freshman tape is that of a first-, second- or third-round pick. He can make contested catches, win against press coverage and truly impact the game at a high level when he's at his best. The football world has seen that before. 

Unfortunately for him, injuries sapped him of the ability to put out more good tape and they also raised questions about his ability to even play professional football. As a result, he either took a tumble down draft boards or fell off them altogether). The Chiefs are buying in, however, and there's not a ton of risk involved for them. They're confident in their medical evaluations, and the talent evaluation speaks for itself. If Ross is able to defy the odds and become a part of Kansas City's long-term future, the reward could be tremendous.