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Is speedy receiver John Ross a near-lock to join Bengals?

Do last year’s draft results pretty much indicate John Ross will be the Bengals’ selection with the ninth overall pick?

Cincinnati Bengals radio announcer Dave Lapham has a pretty good pulse on the team when it comes to who the team is going to draft with their first pick. In recent years he correctly named Kevin Zeitler, Darqueze Dennard, Russell Bodine, and Cedric Ogbuehi as Bengals draft picks. This year, he’s picking John Ross to be the Bengals’ Round 1 pick.

Last year, Lapham put a scare into many Bengals’ fans by claiming the team would select Will Fuller with the 24th pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. The Bengals were spared of horribly reaching for Fuller when the Houston Texans moved up to select him just ahead of the Bengals. After a collective sigh of relief from many fans, the Bengals then went on to select cornerback William Jackson III with the 24th pick.

While the Bengals missed out on Fuller, the word slowly leaked out that he was a player in whom the team had very strong interest. As a prospect, Fuller was a straight-line burner, blazing a 4.32 time in the 40-yard dash, and it became clear the Bengals were very interested in a speedy wide receiver to replace Marvin Jones Jr. who left in free agency last offseason.

Fast forward to the 2017 NFL Draft. The Bengals don’t seem to have any glaring needs, which could be fixed with the ninth pick. The value doesn’t seem to be there in selecting an edge rusher in this deep draft, as the top ones should be gone by the ninth pick. Leonard Fournette should also be off the board, and the draft is also deep with running backs. The ninth spot is also a bit rich for Haason Reddick. And Reuben Foster has been falling considerably during the past couple of weeks due to a diluted drug test coupled with getting kicked out of the NFL Scouting Combine and as a result, not invited to the draft. O.J. Howard is an intriguing option, but not really the game-changer you want with a top-10 pick. The offensive line struggled last year, but this isn’t a great draft to find a lineman, especially in the first 15 picks. Also, the lack of elite quarterbacks means trading down is unlikely, with few teams looking to trade up for a quarterback. Without a sure-fire, obvious choice with the ninth pick, we can turn our attention to wide receivers. Despite drafting Cody Core and Tyler Boyd, and signing/re-signing Brandon LaFell, the team does not have a receiver who matches the profile that made Fuller such a tempting reach for the Bengals last year.

The draft this year offers a receiver who is a similar prospect to Fuller, but much better. With that being the case, would the Bengals’ strong interest in Fuller last year pretty much preclude Washington wide receiver John Ross being the team’s top choice in 2017?

Comparing Ross to Fuller as far as athletes and measurables, Ross blew away Fuller’s 4.32 time in the 40, which is pretty much hard to fathom. With a run of 4.22 seconds, Ross set the NFL Combine record for the fastest time in the event. He is also more athletic, with a much better vertical jump (37” vs 33.5”) and a longer broad jump (133” vs 126”). Ross is also a thicker built receiver, weighing in a couple pounds heavier, while measuring a couple inches shorter.

Comparing Ross to Fuller as receivers, this is where Ross creates even more separation. Ross is a more complete receiver who runs much better routes than Fuller, doing a much better job of getting open. And once the ball comes his direction, Ross isn’t prone to drop it, like Fuller, who was plagued with a multitude of drops while at Notre Dame (Ross’ hands are bigger than Fuller’s 8 ¾” vs 8 ¼”). Ross is a much better after-the-catch receiver, who is not only able to run away from defenders in a straight line, but has enough lateral movement to make them miss in other ways, too. Most of Fuller’s production came on well blocked screens and straight line routes where he just ran past a slow defender. Ross can do these things too, but can also run a more complete set of routes, and was highly rated for beating coverage.

Ross has visited the Bengals this offseason, and the team has apparently given him a clean bill of health. So if the Bengals really liked Will Fuller in the 2016 draft, and Ross is a much better version of Fuller, should it be more or less a foregone conclusion that Ross is the Bengals’ pick on Thursday night?


Will John Ross will be the Bengals’ Round 1 pick?

This poll is closed

  • 46%
    Absolutely. And I’d love it!
    (136 votes)
  • 15%
    He will likely be the pick, but it’s now what I want.
    (44 votes)
  • 14%
    I doubt he will be the pick, but I wish he was.
    (42 votes)
  • 14%
    I doubt he will be the pick, and I’m glad about that.
    (43 votes)
  • 8%
    No way! He’s not even one of the top 2 WRs in this year’s draft!
    (26 votes)
291 votes total Vote Now