Giants Player Profile: Dominique Ross, LB
One of the more intriguing 2020 undrafted free agent signings is linebacker Dominique Ross out of North Carolina, signed after the team drafted of Cam Brown (Penn State), Carter Coughlin (Minnesota, more of an EDGE), T.J. Brunson (South Carolina), and Mr. Irrelevant Tae Crowder (Georgia).
Ross was a three-star recruit out of Trinity Christian Academy near Jacksonville, Florida. He was considered the 48th best outside linebacker prospect, according to 247 Sports, and the 77th overall prospect in the state of Florida, during the 2016 recruiting cycle. He is a 6’4", 228-pound linebacker who possesses burst and movement skills.
Ross played sparingly in his first three seasons at North Carolina, but he played in all 12 games in his final season. He was mostly relegated to special teams early on, and he only played in seven contests in his sophomore season due to injuries.
Ross was also suspended for a half, due to the skirmish between the Tar Heels and North Carolina State Wolfpack. Ross was one of the main facilitators of the altercation.
In college, he recorded 126 tackles, 11 for a loss, four sacks, one interception, one forced fumble, and ten passes defensed as a Tar Heel, but 60 of those tackles, 6 of them for a loss, 2.5 of the sacks, and 5 of the passes defensed were in his final season.
The Giants were uncertain about their linebacker depth heading into the 2020 offseason, which included Ryan Connelly, a rookie who tore his ACL in Week 4, Alec Ogletree, and David Mayo at the position.
Mayo filled in valiantly for Connelly after the injury, and he earned himself a new, fair contract, so he figures to be in the fold for the Giants. Like most expected, Ogletree was released, and Connelly looks to be making a full recovery from his injury.
The Jerry Reese years failed to find competent linebackers in the draft. Greg Jones and Phillip Dillard are among some of the swings that Reese attempted, but neither could stick with the team.
The shortage of talent at the position started to become evident, and the trade for Ogletree by Gettleman was a band-aid to a bigger problem. Gettleman recognized the problem and knew he had to provide Patrick Graham with multiple second-level defenders.
Since Ogletree was cut, the Giants needed a new man for the middle of the defense, so they signed Blake Martinez to a three year, $30 million deal. Along with Martinez, the Giants drafted four hybrid linebacker types and a safety in the second round who can play in the box.
The team is looking to get multiple, so they can do a wide range of coverages and blitzes, while still maintaining disguise and continuity with their run fits.
Dominique Ross fits into the equation well because of his athletic ability. He possesses a good frame and has quality burst to close. Gettleman loves linebackers with a quick get off, a fast 10-yard split.
Ross shows this on film when he shoots gaps. Plus, he has a unique sideline to sideline ability that is somewhat lacking the new, revamped, linebacker room. Ross isn’t quite nuanced yet, but his frame and explosiveness make him very interesting to the New York Giants.
I think Ross has a legitimate chance to make the team, but the Giants might try to sneak him onto the practice squad. If that is the Giants' plan, then they may not want to overly showcase him in the pre-season.
Ross could have a better chance to crack this roster than some of the other linebackers on the squad, and I think one can even make an argument for him making the roster over some of the drafted linebackers from the seventh round.
It’s all going to come down to how they fit in the locker room, their development with this coaching staff, and how they take to Graham’s defense. Ross has one thing on some of those seventh rounders, and that’s burst to close, which is an essential aspect for any second-level defender.